Local secondary teachers are on strike! But why?

Deborah Buchanan-Walford is the local OSSTF President for Emery Adult Day School Teachers and Derik Chica is a Strike Captain for Emery Edvance Secondary School and a local community advocate

Toronto Secondary Teachers are on strike! Teachers at Emery Edvance Secondary School and Emery Adult Learning Centre are voluntarily taking their lunch time to spread information about why they are striking.  They want the provincial Conservative government, led by Doug Ford, to reverse the cuts to education. Over the past year, Doug Ford has cut education over and over again. Class sizes have increased and funding for low income communities, like Emery, has decreased.  Also, Doug Ford’s government wants to force all students to take online classes. Since April, teachers have been trying to bargain with Doug Ford’s Conservatives to reverse the education cuts but nothing has worked. Teachers now have only one last resort, a strike. 

Adult Day schools (ADS) exist as a place to help students over 21 years old who need to earn their Ontario Secondary School Diplomas (OSSDs). Many newcomers to Canada also attend these schools to learn the English Language, gain a Canadian high school diploma or at the bare minimum earn Canadian high school credits, which in turn gives them tools to apply to college or university in Canada and eventually enter the workforce in careers that contribute to the economy. 

The injustice is teachers who teach in an adult school have the same qualifications and belong to the same school boards as “regular” teachers. Yet, teachers in an adult school earn thousands of dollars less. In fact, while contract teachers are permanent, full-time employees who earn a salary, adult teachers are seasonal/casual workers and are paid by the hour. Adult Day School teachers also receive absolutely no health benefits. 

In most Adult Day Schools, teachers don’t get paid time to prepare lessons. Most adult schools have no class size maximums and have as many as 55 students in a class. These schools teach the same credit courses as any other “regular” high school from the same Ontario curricula.

In Toronto, there are only 5 adult schools which serve thousands of adult students every year. In other boards, there are even less. The looming reality of Ontario’s high schools having large class sizes, underserved special needs students, and underpaid teachers is already happening in Adult Day Schools. If it’s so bad for the regular schools, why is it ok for us? 

We need #equityforads and we need it now.

Update on the fire at 235 Gosford Blvd.

On Friday, November 15, the apartment building located at 235 Gosford Boulevard, near Jane and Steeles, experienced a 5-alarm fire that displaced close to 354 hundred residents and resulted in the death of one resident. The fire reportedly started on the eighth floor, but the Ontario Fire Marshall is not viewing the fire as suspicious at this time. 

Driftwood Community Recreation Centre opened their doors for the first two nights to provide shelter for residents who could not find another place to stay, and York University followed suit by opening their doors for the same purpose. The university released their Tait McKenzie Centre for 14 days to accommodate all of the residents that needed a space to eat, rest and use their facilities. The centre was open 24/7 and ID was not required to register due to the circumstances. Shelter provisions are part of the City’s Emergency Management plan to help house displaced residents and these services are provided for a 14-day period. By the end of the two weeks, 34 residents were left at the centre and were then transferred to hotel accommodations provided by the property manager, RKM.

The City indicated that the reception centre provided cots, showers, secure storage, animal care and personal services such as hygiene kits and mental health supports. The Red Cross was authorized to manage the temporary shelter and distribution of amenities. Vouchers were provided for those who lost or could not access their belongings. Most units were made accessible temporarily for the purpose of scheduling appointments with the landlords, which allowed many residents to drop in and gradually grab supplies from their homes, including clothes and toiletries.

Tenants who made alternate living arrangements were still encouraged to register with the Red Cross on site at York University over the 14-day period to ensure that they had an opportunity to access the same resources that those staying at the shelter were utilizing. Local schools accepted clothing donations for the students impacted by the fire, however, the Red Cross encouraged online donations for security reasons.

Local City Councillor Anthony Perruzza and MPP Tom Rakocevic, along with representatives from their offices were present and continue to advocate for residents. Mayor John Tory was also on-site showing support for the community and has since released statements about the ongoing progress of the situation.

Emergency Response units are still investigating the cause of the fire. While it has not been confirmed when residents can move back, contractors are working to restore the building as quickly as possible. Depending on the state of the unit, it could take months until some are habitable again. The Downsview Advocate will continue to publish updates as they become available in order to keep the neighbourhood up-to-date

If readers have further questions, please call The Red Cross – Toronto Office Emergency Services at: (416) 480-0195 or local City Councillor Anthony Perruzza’s Office at (416) 338-5335.

3 ways to drive profitability

While most business owners want to increase profits, most do not have a plan to do so. Some say they will increase profits by boosting sales. But how will you boost sales? Will you hire more sales-people? Can you afford more sales-people? Will you leverage additional sales channels through which you can sell your products or services?

Will you try and help any customer that comes to you? Can you afford to do everything for every customer? Do you know which products or services are worth your time to produce or deliver? Do you know which products or services are actually profitable once you take input costs, overheads, salaries (Yes this includes your salary as well), delivery and other costs into account?

Will you perhaps expand to another location or add additional products and services? What will this entail? 

It seems that no matter what the initial idea, some thought and planning may be required to make this a reality. This “plan” is often called a business strategy. It could be either a strategy for a specific functional area such as marketing or sales, or alternatively, it could be a complete and comprehensive business strategy. Developing a business strategy can be difficult but it is often the difference between success and failure. If your business does not have business strategy, speak to someone who can help you create one.

Creating a niche for your business is important in making your business different from your competitors and does not force you to compete with large companies with scale, that can offer the same products or services at a cheaper price. Every business should think like their target audience or customers.  Know their exact needs, motivators, wants, dreams, goals, and interests. Find out what is valuable to your customers and what they are willing to pay a little extra for. Ever wonder why Starbucks (a normal coffee shop) was able to differentiate enough to grow much faster than their competitors? 

Finally, it is important to create internal targets and goals. This helps to determine how well you are doing. One way to measure progress toward achieving your business goals is to use key performance indicators (KPI’s). Another is to use customer satisfaction as a benchmark for external performance and success.

KPIs provide us with an immediate snapshot of the overall performance of our businesses. To be used effectively, we need to measure and track the key performance indicators crucial to the success of our business such as profit margins per product category, and total sales. They also play a key role by providing vital decision-making information. (Do we sell more of product A or Product B? Which one is actually more profitable?) 

Customer satisfaction can be measured using the Net Promoter Score (NPS) which we discussed in our last article. Have you done this for your business yet? How high is your Net Promoter Score?

“Profitability is coming from productivity, efficiency, management, austerity, and the way to manage the business”-  Carlos Slim