Internal union polling shows support for teachers in labour fight with province
An empty classroom is shown in this file image. (The Canadian Press)
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Friday, January 17, 2020 4:15PM EST
Ontarians appear to be siding with teachers in their labour fight with the Progressive Conservative government, according to a union-commissioned poll obtained by CTV News Toronto.
The Environics poll was conducted on behalf of the Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation between Dec. 20 and 23.
It found that 57 per cent of the 500 residents polled sympathized with teachers and education workers amid deadlocked negotiations compared to 18 per cent who said that their sympathies lied with the PC government.
The poll also found that a majority of respondents (56 per cent) felt that secondary school teachers and education workers were being reasonable in negotiations while only 33 per cent felt they were being unreasonable.
The result for the province were largely reversed with 32 per cent of respondents saying that they were being reasonable in negotiations compared to 55 per cent who considered them to be unreasonable.
It should be noted that the poll obtained by CTV News Toronto was conducted prior to recent escalation of labour action by the province’s school teacher unions, specifically the rotating strikes by public board elementary teachers that will start Monday and the planned one-day withdrawal of services by catholic board teachers the following day.
"Our polling has repeatedly shown us that the public supports the positions that we've taken at the bargaining table and absolutely opposes the destructive path that is laid out by Ford education agenda," OSSTF President Harvey Bischof told CTV News Toronto. "Over and over again the public says they trust educators to look out for the best interests of students and they don't trust the Ford government.”
Education Minister Stephen Lecce has repeatedly accused the province’s four public school teachers’ unions of needlessly escalating job action at the expense of students.
For their part the unions have accused the province of trying to push through destructive cuts that will irreparably harm the education system, including changes to class sizes and the introduction of e-learning.
The internal polling commissioned by the OSSTF does appears to show support for the teachers continuing their fight.
It found that 59 per cent of respondents believe that teachers should continue negotiating compared to 26 per cent who said that they should accept the offers being tabled by the province.
The poll also found that 65 per cent of respondents believe that cuts to education are more harmful than job action (27 per cent).
A margin of error for the poll has not been provided.