TORONTO, ON - Dec 12 2012 — The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF/FEESO) has expressed serious concerns about the mixed messages that the Ontario government is sending to Ontarians after the release of the Ontario Auditor General’s 2012 Annual Report today.
In that report, Ontario Auditor General Jim McCarter indicated that the Ministry of Finance may have to write off about $1.4 billion in unpaid taxes, most of which comes from retail businesses and corporations.
Ken Coran, President of OSSTF/FEESO questioned, “How can the government claim on one hand, that the education workers of Ontario, along with many other workers in this province, must have their wages and benefits cut drastically, yet, on the other hand, is willing to forgive over a billion dollars in mainly business and corporate taxes?”
“The current unrest in the education sector is very much focused on the repeal of Bill 115, a Bill which the government has referred to repeatedly in the media as a ‘Wage Freeze Bill.’ OSSTF/FEESO has said all along that our members are willing to accept a wage freeze, just like the Minister of Education and Premier asked us to do. It is obvious that Bill 115 cannot be about controlling spending and getting the deficit under control if the government is able to consider writing off more than a billion dollars in unpaid taxes. It has become clear that the Ontario government’s expectation has been for the education sector to be the scapegoat for the province’s fiscal challenges,” said President Coran.
“This government would appear to have two major priorities these days; to demonize education sector workers by blaming them for the province’s budget challenges, and to forgive businesses and corporations for not paying over a billion dollars in unpaid taxes. I think it is safe to say that while these may be government priorities, these are not the priorities of most Ontarians,” concluded Coran.
OSSTF/FEESO, founded in 1919, has 60,000 members across Ontario. They include public high school teachers, occasional teachers, educational assistants, continuing education teachers and instructors, early childhood educators, psychologists, secretaries, speech-language pathologists, social workers, plant support personnel, university support staff, and many others in education.