Ontario education workers will be off the job Monday no matter what labour board rules: CUPE
Ontario education workers will be off the job on Monday and in the days following even if an Ontario labour board determines their strike is illegal, a spokesperson for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) confirmed to CBC News.
“Members are off the job and political protests will continue,” CUPE spokesperson Daniel Tseghay wrote in an email Sunday night.
Thousands of education workers, including education assistants, custodians and librarians, walked off the job on Friday to protest the provincial government passing legislation that banned strikes and imposed a four-year contract, using the notwithstanding clause to avoid constitutional challenges.
A hearing at the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) to determine the legality of the strike concluded Sunday after three days of arguments between lawyers for the provincial government and CUPE.
CUPE’s intention to continue their job action regardless of what the board rules was first reported by The Globe and Mail.
OLRB chair Brian O’Byrne said he hopes to render a decision before the school week begins, but he’s not sure it can be done.
“I honestly cannot tell you when I will get you a bottom line,” O’Byrne said. “I’m going to try and do it by today. Hopefully I’ll succeed.”
A government lawyer argued before the board that it doesn’t matter whether the contract that now binds 55,000 employees was negotiated with their input or imposed upon them.
Ferina Murji said strikes are prohibited in the midst of any contract, not just one that was ratified by union membership.
“A collective agreement is a collective agreement is a collective agreement,” she said.
The government is seeking a ruling that their walkout is illegal, while CUPE — which represents education workers — contends the job action is a form of legitimate political protest.
The strike closed numerous schools across the province Friday, with even more set to shut on Monday.
“With 55,000 people not attending schools across the province, that means millions of students and their parents are left with nowhere to go, are left not learning, not getting the education that the Education Act ensures they will get,” Murji said, stressing the importance of the board’s intervention.
Several Ontario school boards said they will move to remote learning next week indefinitely if the education workers’ strike continues. Some boards, including the Toronto District School Board, said they will move online as soon as Monday. In-person classes at northern Ontario’s largest school board will resume Monday after they were cancelled Friday, the Rainbow District School Board confirmed in a letter to parents.
‘Frenzied and sleep-deprived’
O’Byrne heard arguments over the course of 16 hours on Saturday, with the hearing stretching into early Sunday morning, before resuming just hours later, at 7 a.m.
As Day 3 of the hearing got underway, O’Byrne noted the “frenzied and sleep-deprived context of the hearings.”
Earlier in the proceedings, CUPE’s lawyer argued that an imposed contract should not be treated the same way as one that was negotiated through collective bargaining.
“I do accept that Bill 28 is in writing. But it is not a voluntarily negotiated agreement,” Steven Barrett said on Saturday.
“It is deemed to be a collective agreement under Section 5 … but to call this a mid-contract withdrawal of services, as if this was a collective agreement freely negotiated, is a fundamental absurdity.”
Barrett told O’Byrne that should he deem the strike legal, the job action could continue until the government repeals its new legislation or until the union and government negotiate its end.
The province’s new law has set fines for violating the ban on strikes of up to $4,000 per employee per day — which could amount to $220 million for all 55,000 workers — and up to $500,000 per day for the union.
CUPE has said it will fight the fines, but will also pay them if it has to.
Poll finds majority blame Ford government
Meanwhile, Ontario residents appear to be placing blame on Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government for the contract dispute, according to a new public opinion poll released Sunday.
The online poll from Abacus Data found that 62 per cent of respondents blame the provincial government for schools closing after education workers walked off the job Friday. Thirty-eight per cent point the finger at the workers.
Sixty-eight per cent of parents of school-aged children believe the Ford government bears the most responsibility, the survey found, while 71 per cent of respondents want the province to negotiate a “fair deal” with education workers, rather than continue with its current strategy.
The poll, conducted on Nov. 4 and 5, surveyed 1,000 adults and comes with a margin of error of 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20, according to Abacus Data.
The union had been seeking annual salary increases of 11.7 per cent for its workers, who make on average $39,000 a year, but the imposed contract would give 2.5 per cent annual raises to workers making less than $43,000 and 1.5 per cent raises for all others.
Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Boards’ Council of Unions, said the results of the poll show Ontarians support the education workers in their job action.
“This poll confirms what we already knew: that the majority of people support education workers, that they see through the Ford government’s lies about working for workers and students, that they know $39,000 isn’t enough, and that they believe workers’ rights to freely bargain and strike if necessary must always be protected,” Walton said in a statement.
“Seven out of 10 Ontarians want the government to negotiate a fair deal. That starts with repealing Bill 28, an unjust law which Ontarians know is like giving a schoolyard bully a sledgehammer.”
CBC News has reached out to the office of the premier and the education minister for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
Debt in Canada: What’s normal for your age?
If you’re like most people, you have at least some debt. Your mortgage, car payment, credit card balance, and student loans are all liabilities that contribute to your total debt.
Have you ever stopped to wonder how much debt is normal for your age, though?
Below, I’ll outline the average and median debt by age in Canada, so you can see how your finances compare. Then I’ll explain some of the key reasons why Canadians’ debt is increasing.
Average debt by age group in Canada
First of all, it’s important to understand that debt is normal. Very few Canadians are 100% debt-free. Even those with near-perfect credit scores likely have an auto or student loan they’re paying down.
These are the debt metrics measured by Statistics Canada during census surveys.
Here’s the average debt by age group in Canada as of 2019, according to the latest data sets from Statistics Canada:
Note – this data applies to individuals who are not in an economic family. The numbers differ for economic families, which include married/common-law partners and families with dependent children.
The total debt measured includes:
- Mortgage debt
- Lines of credit
- Credit card debt
- Student loans
- Vehicle loans
- Other debt (doesn’t fit in the categories above)
Median debt by age group in Canada
Looking at average debt provides a decent overview of the data. However, the averages are very skewed by the debt incurred by Canada’s ultra-wealthy taxpayers.
When calculating the average, all values are added together and divided by the total number of values. This means that a few extreme values can greatly influence the result.
In contrast, the median is the middle value in a dataset when values are arranged in order. As such, it is less affected by outliers and provides a more accurate representation of typical values.
For example, a multi-millionaire with a $2-million mortgage will skew the average higher than the average Canadian.
For a more accurate look at Canadian debt, I find that the median data as of 2019 provides more accurate insight:
Why is consumer debt increasing in Canada?
Over the past year, consumer debt has notably increased. This is especially true for credit card debt. The average monthly spending per credit card increased by 17.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the previous year, according to a recent report by Equifax Canada.
In the report Rebecca Oakes, vice-president of Advanced Analytics at Equifax Canada, stated that “Gen Z and Millennials are driving up higher consumer spending the most.”
Even though inflation is slowly easing, it’s still relatively high. The high inflation has driven up the cost of everyday goods, including groceries and fuel. This, in turn, means that Canadians are spending more per month than they were before 2022, when inflation started to rise.
Unfortunately, workers’ pay hasn’t grown with inflation. This means that the average Canadian simply has less money to spend, increasing their reliance on credit cards to purchase daily necessities.
- Pent-up demand and travel
Oakes goes on to state that “Pent-up demand and increased travel with the easing of COVID restrictions, combined with soaring inflation, have led to some of the highest increases in credit card spending we’ve ever seen.”
It makes sense that Canadians would be eager to travel after several years of travel restrictions, even if it means incurring more credit card debt.
- Increased interest rates
To keep inflation under control, the fed steadily increased interest rates throughout 2022 and is discussing more rate hikes this year. As the federal interest rate has increased, variable interest rates, such as those offered by credit card companies, have also increased.
Those who carry a credit balance over to the next month must now pay even more interest on their credit card debt, increasing their overall debt.
Creating a plan to manage your debt
Accruing debt in the short-term may be inevitable due to high-interest rates and inflation. However, it’s important to create a plan to get your debt under control.
A reliable budget plan paired with consistent action is the best way to get out of debt.
Revisit your monthly budget to find areas where you can save, try to pay down high-interest credit card debt as quickly as possible, and consider taking up a side hustle to earn extra money that you can put towards your debt.
Six bodies, including one child, recovered from St. Lawrence River
The bodies of six people, including one child with a Canadian passport, were recovered from the St. Lawrence River late Thursday afternoon, according to Akwesasne Mohawk Police Chief Shawn Dulude.
The bodies of six people, including one child with a Canadian passport, were recovered from the St. Lawrence River late Thursday afternoon, according to Akwesasne Mohawk Police Chief Shawn Dulude.
Dulude said he could not provide any information on the nationalities of the other five deceased.
The Mohawk community of Akwesasne straddles the Canada-U.S. border and occupies territory in Ontario, Quebec and New York state.
The Akwesasne Mohawk Police, with the assistance of the Canadian Coast Guard, is leading the ongoing investigation, Dulude said.
The bodies were spotted in Canadian waters by a Canadian Coast Guard helicopter, he said.
The discovery of the bodies coincided with the search for a missing Akwesasne community member that also began Thursday, Dulude said.
They were turned away at the Canadian border
Toddlers ran through aisles filled with snacks and candies. Adults slumped in chairs. Multiple cellphones were plugged into a single wall socket. Backpacks and suitcases were scattered among the two rows of tables in a corner of this small-town bus stop and gas station.
After they were turned away at the Canadian border and spent three days in detention, the roughly 15 asylum seekers at the Mountain Mart No. 109 in the town of Plattsburgh, N.Y., south of Montreal, on Tuesday afternoon were trying to figure out what to do.
They had tried to get into the country at the popular unofficial crossing on Roxham Road in the hours after a new border deal between Canada and the U.S. came into effect late last week.
Alan Rivas, a Peruvian man who was hoping to reunite with his girlfriend who’s been living in Montreal for two years, said he’d spent $4,000 on making it this far.
“I’m trying to think about what to do now.”
A sense of solidarity emerged as people recognized each other from various parts of their time stuck on the border, along with a sense of resignation and deep disappointment.
“Disappointing and heartbreaking,” said a man from Central Africa, whom CBC agreed not to identify because he fears it could affect his asylum claim process in the United States.
He had shared a cab ride with a man from Chad, who fled to the U.S. after the government of his country led a violent crackdown on opponents last fall.
“It’s unfair. We are not home and we suffer. We’re looking for a better life,” the man from Central Africa said.
The man from Chad looked up and said: “No, looking for protection is not having a better life. I had a life.”
The Chadian was not let into Canada despite his wife and child being Canadian citizens, he said. Having a family member with legal status in Canada is one of the few exemptions to the strict new rules that make it nearly impossible to claim asylum at the Canada-U.S. border. His wife and child fled to a nearby country after the crackdown in Chad, but he explained that his wife’s family is still in Canada.
Other exemptions include being an unaccompanied minor and having a work permit or other official document allowing a person to be in Canada.
“They made me sign a paper without giving me time to read it. They didn’t explain anything,” said the man, whom CBC also agreed not to name because he fears for his family’s safety in an African country near Chad.
The Canada-U.S. deal was implemented swiftly before the weekend, leaving local governments and organizations little time to respond and turned-away asylum seekers struggling to find food, shelter and rides.
The man from Central Africa was trying to round up enough money to pay for a $200 bus ticket to Houston, where he would stay with a friend. The man from Chad gave him the $40 he was missing.
The Central African said he had spent his savings on coming to Canada. His hope was to live here until obtaining residency, and then arranging for his family to come to meet him.
“I know a guy in Houston who hasn’t seen his family in 10 years. He still doesn’t have status,” he said.
A young Haitian mother cradled her baby as her toddler made friends with another child. Her family had paid an acquaintance in New Jersey $300 per adult to get to Roxham Road before midnight Friday, but the driver got lost and they arrived at 12:03 a.m.
Steven, a 24-year-old Venezuelan who attempted to cross into Canada at Roxham early Saturday morning, mingled with the people he’d met in detention. Then he tried to call his mom.
“She doesn’t know,” said Steven, who didn’t want his last name used in this story because of fears it could affect his U.S. asylum claim. “I know I seem happy but I am sad.”
Carmen Salazar, 45, also from Venezuela, watched him from another table.
“It’s hard, really hard,” she said.
The group of asylum seekers at the Mountain Mart had found comfort in finding each other. They all boarded a bus leaving Plattsburgh at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday. Its main destination was New York City.
Others haven’t been so lucky finding a way out of Plattsburgh.
The night before, a woman who was seen at Roxham Road early Saturday, sat alone at the bus stop crying.
3 nights in a motel and no plan
Across the street, in a small motel, a 34-year-old Haitian man and his pregnant girlfriend had one night left out of three that had been paid for by local emergency housing services. But they had no plan and only $41 to their name.
“We’re here. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’re going to look for ways to be able to live. What I’m looking for — nothing more — is a place to rest and a place to work. Nothing else,” said the man, sitting in the lobby of the motel. CBC is not naming him because of fears it could affect his American asylum claim.
The couple had intended to stay in the U.S. after crossing the Mexican border, but the woman became pregnant and developed constant pains. In the U.S., they had to stay with separate family members far from each other and the man worried about his wife and being able to afford medical bills, so they decided to try to get to Canada, having heard it was easier to find work and that health-care was more affordable, he said.
In an interview with Radio-Canada Monday, a man from another Central African country struggled to hold back tears.
He said the confusion after being taken in at Roxham Road by RCMP officers was hurtful because it wasn’t clear if he’d be accepted into Canada or not. When they called his name, he was filled with hope, only to be told he was being sent to U.S. Border Patrol.
“I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know where to go. I don’t have anyone who will take me in,” he said.
The response from U.S. Border Patrol appears to be uneven. Some asylum seekers CBC spoke with had taxis called for them, having to pay another $70 to get to the Mountain Mart. One woman was found on the side of the service road by the border and given a ride by a social science researcher and documentary photographer met by CBC.
The man interviewed by Radio-Canada was part of a group who were given a ride to the gas station by a Greyhound bus heading back to New York from Montreal.
CBC reached out to U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Monday, asking what happens to asylum seekers rejected by Canada, but did not receive a response.
Although in favour of some kind of change to reduce traffic at Roxham Road, one local official wants help from the federal governments to deal with the fallout.
Michael Cashman, supervisor for the Town of Plattsburgh, says Canada and the U.S. to come up with a response to help asylum seekers get to where they want to go in the U.S.
He isn’t against the move to restrict access to Canada at Roxham Road.
“There had to be a change,” he said, noting residents had been asking for one, but compared the way it was done to turning off a light switch before entering a room: “You’re going to bump into some furniture.”
The area is rural and has its share of struggles with transportation and housing, Cashman said.
“There isn’t a robust infrastructure to be able to take on this humanitarian crisis as it develops.”
On Monday and Tuesday, buses coming from New York carried only a few asylum seekers hoping to cross the border. Most knew about the new rules, believing their cases would fit some of the exemptions. Others still did not know.
By Tuesday, cab drivers were no longer ferrying people to Roxham Road, taking them to the official border crossing at Champlain, N.Y., and Lacolle, Que., instead.
Investment opportunities in precious metals: Three hot picks from David McAlvany
PRE-GAME REPORT: Oilers vs. Kings – Edmonton
The Japanese Collector’s Edition Of Zelda Tears Of The Kingdom Is Available At Amazon
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Search for life on Mars accelerates as new bodies of water found below planet’s surface
Art20 hours ago
Art collector Myriam Ullens killed outside her home in Belgium, allegedly by her stepson
Real eState19 hours ago
A massive chunk of Toronto’s Kensington Market is now for sale at $24 million
Business17 hours ago
As Canadians miss out on benefits, Ottawa promises automatic tax filing is on the way
Economy17 hours ago
US revises down last quarter’s economic growth to 2.6% rate
Economy19 hours ago
Anomalies abound in today’s economy. Can artificial intelligence know what’s going on?
Business16 hours ago
Pierre Poilievre is neither for nor against the Liberals’ industrial strategy. Quite the opposite
Health19 hours ago
Study shows well-established protective gene for Alzheimer’s only safeguards against cognitive decline in men – Sunnybrook Research Institute
Science6 hours ago
After sunset, see the 5 planets in the sky or via video