The latest dispute between the province of Ontario and its teachers has led some writers to the editors of newspapers to suggest teaching should be made an essential service. Bad idea– unless the province simultaneously re-vamps the current system of public sector arbitration. Were teachers to become an essential service they would fall under the same arbitration system that routinely awards police and fire departments settlements in excess of inflation. Arbitrators pay no heed to the ability of a jurisdiction to pay, they simply award increases based on the most successful settlement that has been reached by essential workers in other cities. In other words it’s a perverse race to the top where small communities with low tax bases are forced to compete with large cities. It’s ironic that the current government whose re-election was supported by a massive advertising campaign organized by public sector unions finds itself at odds with the largest unions in the province. It appears that simply not being Tim Hudak doesn’t get the job done in 2015.
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