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A free and fair collective bargaining process needed to attract teachers

If our province is going to be a preferred destination for Canadian teachers interested in relocating, it first needs to fix its own reputation.

  • April 17, 2019
  • Published by NSTU1

Nova Scotia teachers feel a strong sense of solidarity with our Ontario counterparts, who are currently struggling to make sense of Doug Ford’s irresponsible cuts to public education.

We know what it’s like to have a government that prefers to attack teachers and their rights instead of working collaboratively to ensure students receive the best education possible. It’s not lost on NSTU members that Doug Ford’s current rhetoric about teacher unions sounds an awful lot like Stephen McNeil’s overused talking points.

It’s for these reasons that Zach Churchill’s recent quip that he is going to “poach” teachers leaving Ontario has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. What’s happening in Ontario is nothing to joke about, and the Minister is in no position to score political points given his own government’s record.

This isn’t to say that Nova Scotia doesn’t need to be more active at recruiting teachers from other jurisdictions. It should be, especially given the current shortage. But if our province is going to be a preferred destination for Canadian teachers interested in relocating, it first needs to fix its own reputation.

For starters, more needs to be done to improve working conditions and repair morale, which is at an all-time low. The toxic professional environment the McNeil government has helped create needs to be repaired, trust needs to be restored, and a greater emphasis must also be placed on teacher retention. It’s a troubling sign that no new money was earmarked for teacher retention in this year’s budget, and that the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development has failed to name the work force recruitment and retention committee it promised almost a year ago.

A repeat of the government tactics that led to the imposed contract in Bill 75, and the subsequent adoption of the Glaze report, are not going to send a positive message to teachers considering a move to Nova Scotia.

Canada has a very competitive teaching market at the moment. Other provinces have been far more active and successful on this front in recent years. If we are going to reverse this trend, the government needs to demonstrate a willingness to engage in free and fair collective bargaining. If it doesn’t, the professional gaps in our public education system will only continue to widen.

– Paul Wozney