Opening Statement



Saturday, 25 February 2012

BTC: Education Minister Gets Frosty Reception!


Ontario Minister of Education Laurel Broten received a seemingly frosty reception during her key address and Q+A Friday at our 2012 Beginning Teacher Conference [BTC]. Pressing questions and uncertainty over the Drummond report, the PDT [Provincial Discussion Table], and mixed government messaging over the past few weeks were first and foremost on the members minds with our latest contract talks about to begin.


The Beginning teachers quizzed the minister on their job, program and salary concerns. The Minister, while short on details, was quick to state the Liberals continued support for the many excellent gains we have collectively made in rebuilding the Education system in Ontario since the Harris years. She repeated the government's support for all day Kindergarten and caps on class size, noting these were the most timely issues at present, but was otherwise unspecific. A lot of our members seemed ill at ease.


Our teacher's association has a proud and productive history of working with the Liberal government in finding creative and constructive problem solving solutions to our provincial education issues. Without doubt  our teachers expect to continue the partnership during these difficult economic times. However our concerns were well reflected in the Beginning teachers probing questions. Unlike our usual warm, candid teacher meetings with the Ministry, Friday was less of an apparent Liberal love-in than in years past. There were many pointed questions. They were presented without rancour. Still the teachers weren't certain about the present status quo, and sought clear reassurances about our ongoing good working relationship with the Liberal government. Surely our BT's meeting with Education Minster Broten well reflected our concern about how to proceed together in light of the many proposed education cuts in the Drummond Report.


I have worked with Laurel Broten for many years since her 2003 election, like many of our senior teachers, and hold her and the premier in high regard for the many advancements we have made in building our world class education system. Regretfully, on Friday the messaging though seemingly positive, was vague about how the government plans to continue with this great working relationship, a situation we look forward to reconfirming in the upcoming budget and contract talks ahead. Our BT's did especially well in making this clear.


Please stay tuned for more teacher and union news and views about the great group of Beginning Teachers we have, as well as  more about this weekend's conference in the days ahead.



Education Minister Broten at the BTC Friday.


Beginning Teacher's 2012 was a great success but....


Have the first tremours of a seismic Ontario political shift begun..........?.

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