Financial mismanagement means tough lessons at bargaining table

In 2005 to mark the 60th Anniversary of the end of the Second  World War, “The Prince Edward Lecture Series” brought the outstanding movie, “The Hiding Place” to The Regent Theatre for several showings.

The movie is the story of the Ten Boom family in Holland. Kasper and his two daughters Corrie and Betsy were watch makers with a thriving business, and had a large shop/house. While suffering under Nazi occupation, the Ten Booms were hiding fleeing Jews  in their secret hiding place. In three years, over 300 of God’s people passed through the Ten Boom home, before being secretly turned over to the Dutch underground  to be taken to safety.

Unfortunately, the Ten Booms were betrayed by a fellow Dutchman, and arrested by the Gestapo. The Lecture Series committee was excited about this event which was well attended, including Mayor Leo Finnegan; with each person receiving a  hard cover copy of Corrie’s book, ”Messages of God’s Abundance”. Six hundred books were distributed at the theatre, and to local churches.

Invitations were sent out to all the elementary schools and PECI to come to this exciting free event. A few days later I received a courtesy call from the Vice-Principal of Sophiasburgh  School informing me that the union was implementing  “Work to rule”, and that meant no “Field Trips”;  and that no pupils from  any school in the County would attend the movie. PECI did not give a response to the invitation, or participate.

That was discouraging, but on the day, four classes from St. Greg’s Catholic school walked to the Regent theatre, and a class from Sonrise Christian Academy and several children who were being home schooled, and their parents and others, were in the audience, each one receiving Corrie’s book.

The message from the teachers was that in the end, this was all for the betterment of children.

Here  we are fifteen years later and the same union and some of the same leadership  are now creating calculated chaos across the province with rotating strikes; this time the slogan is “Walking for Education” or  “A Fair Deal for Elementary Teachers”. Included in the resistance package is: no report cards at some Boards of Education, and the withdrawal of other administrative services.

To be clear, many teachers (not all) are among the most dedicated, gifted, caring and competent persons on the planet. Many are fantastic and enrich students’ lives in marvellous ways to prepare them for their life’s work or professional career.

In the 15 years since the work to rule of 2005, which I experienced, the Dalton McGuinty government granted  teachers demands, and upped their salaries. In 2015, the Kathleen Wynne government provided teachers with a 2.5 per cent salary increase and enhanced working conditions, which are in fact borrowed dollars; creating even more debt.

The province of Ontario and the Ford government by way of fifteen previous years of  fiscal mismanagement  has inherited this mess. The province is swimming in red ink and the debt is at a super crisis level. In 2018 Ontario debt was $349 billion dollars and counting, with annual interest charges of 12 billion dollars. This is unsustainable.

I believe that parents also need to rally and demonstrate in front of schools and government offices,  and  in the public square, to send a message that they have had enough and please settle and return to class.

Any parent out there with great organizational skills?

A word to the union– Doug Ford can’t cave in. There’s no more money.  Your students would understand that frightening Math.  By settling now, you’re doing a service to yourself and families across this province. Everyone’s patience is running thin, including taxpayers.

Robert C. Wilson