||Volume 23, Number 7, May/June 2011
Bills 27 and 28: What do we get back in health and safety?
There will be a number of health and safety implications when our class-size and composition provisions are given back and in particular when funding is restored.
The “changes” proposed in the stripping of collective agreements in 2002 were removal of class size, class composition, and staffing ratios for “non-enrolling” teachers including school counselors, teacher-librarians, ESL, learning assistance, and others who support students with special needs. A ministry document from December 8, 2001, states: “It is assumed that the largest opportunity for savings will come from school boards taking advantage of the opportunity to increase class sizes and reduce non-enrolling teacher positions.”
The outfall of these changes also resulted in the closure of schools, the compacting of students into existing schools and the cutting of support services. This meant fewer supports for students, overcrowded classes and schools, and reductions in maintenance services to keep schools clean.
The recent win will mean healthier teachers for the following reasons:
- Members will experience less stress as they will have manageable class sizes and caseloads so that students receive the attention and support they need.
- Incidents of violent behaviour will decrease as supports will be in place to address students’ needs.
- Voice problems will be reduced as the noise levels decrease due to fewer bodies in the classroom.
- Allergy symptoms will diminish as custodial services are replaced to adequate levels.
- Indoor air quality will improve as the maintenance staff will be able to clean rooms and ventilation systems more regularly.
- There will be less wear and tear on facilities with fewer people.
- Repairs will be done more expeditiously with restored budgets.
- Musculoskeletal injuries will decrease as old furniture will be replaced.
- Joint health and safety committees will meet more frequently with release time provided to workers.
- Inspections will take place during work times.
- Construction and renovations will take place outside of instructional time.
Members will be able to identify other benefits relative to improved health and safety as a result of the Bill 27 and 28 win. Bringing these to the attention of the local leaders will ensure that the health of our members will improve.
– Karen Langenmaier, Income Security Division