Pay and Benefits Are Investments in Education, Not Costs

Pay and Benefits Are Investments in Education, Not Costs – Laura Chesnik –

It has been amply revealed in the case of both health care and education workers, if pay and benefits do not keep up with increasing cost of living and stressful working conditions, it directly affects staffing levels and the quality of care and services people receive. The public must be informed about this relationship so that they can see that investments in education are in fact what create value in the form of a healthy and educated population and any agenda which seeks to remove funding from education with cuts or privatization will only remove value from the economy and the public services everyone requires.

When governments attack wages and benefits, they hide that they are in fact trying to steal the value produced by workers in the public sector in order to pay off private interests who want to use it for their own self-serving purposes. The value produced by educators is the youth they educate who go on to produce immense value in the economy. When the value they produce is not returned to society but retained by the private enterprises that benefit directly from it, public education is undermined. This is what the government is trying to hide.

As for benefits and sick days, the government uses this as a wedge to get educators to shut up on the basis that they have “good benefits and sick days,” which many others don’t, as if these had no relationship to the conditions required to teach and provide the required supports to students. If teachers and education workers are sick or physically not well they cannot teach and provide the supports students need — let alone under the conditions of packed classes with all the demands in any given classroom without the supports that have long been required.

Teachers and education workers also do all kinds of extra-curricular activities and even when off sick have used the time to catch up on marking or planning, which they should not have to do. In some cases sick days are needed just to have the mental health to be ready for what dealing with students in today’s classrooms requires. So how can sick days be considered an individual benefit?

If the government arbitrarily breaks the arrangement for sick days again — as the previous Liberal government did when it arbitrarily removed half the sick days and then put in place a union-administered benefits plan in an attempt to have its imposition of provincial bargaining legislation accepted — it will lead to more chaotic conditions in the schools, with more fending for oneself by both staff and the youth in their charge. In other words, pay and benefits are vital to the actual learning conditions of students and should not be treated as a private matter as if educators have something to hide.  

(Photo: Renewal Update)