A good newspaper retains columnists that you strongly disagree with. Even when it seems like the incessant blather they produce ought to be embarrassing. That’s how democracy works. I get it. So does the Globe & Mail.
For as long as anyone can remember, the teachers’ unions and progressive politicians have been a match made in heaven… But now, the money has run out. The relationship has hit the rocks, and things will never be the same again.
First of all, Margaret Wente, welcome to the 21st century. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but teachers’ unions and provincial governments have been “on the rocks” for years and years now. All unions, in fact. I dare you to list all the meaningful, lasting, and life-changing reforms that unions have pushed into legislation, in any province in this country, since let’s say 1990. Go on. I dare you. And then come back to me and tell me that the union movement is too powerful.
Wente’s main complaint is that teachers are overpaid (where have I heard this before?). Specifically, she says that Ontario’s teachers are overpaid and, even more specifically, that someone doesn’t deserve to get paid $92,000 a year “for teaching Grade 3 in Thunder Bay.” Ontario’s teachers are “among the best paid in the world,” and “we can’t afford it.” There goes socialist McGuinty with his heavy tax-and-spend socialism again, yes?
Let’s start from square one. According to the Lakehead school district’s collective agreement with the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, this is what grade 3 teachers (amongst others) in Thunder Bay got paid during the past school year:
Can Ontario afford this vast largesse? I suppose it depends. Despite the raving right’s annoyance at the Liberal McGuinty government for its sky-high taxes, here’s how Ontario’s income tax rate stacks up against those of other provinces. As you can see, Ontario’s top tax bracket pays 11% in income tax. That’s the lowest tax rate listed, except for Alberta. The Drummond Report which is forming the basis for Ontario’s current “crisis” austerity regimen is quite explicit on this subject: government revenue as a share of the economy is falling. Yet citizens’ expectations for government services are steady, if not rising. Is there a mismatch here? Anyone?
Surely the high point of this article is a paragraph in which Wente, who obviously excelled in the last math class she took, grapples with the great and enduring mystery of how, over the past 10 years, an average salary increase of 3% per year somehow morphed into an appalling 30% increase in salaries, and concludes that this devious gift to the unions must have been accomplished through some sort of salary grid-related hocus-pocus. (I’m sure there’s a legitimate point in there somewhere, which just didn’t come across clearly.)
At this point the only thing standing in the way of Ontario slashing teacher salaries is the rule of law, which, as right-wing governments across this country have demonstrated amply for years now, is fairly flimsy protection. And as we all know from economics (which perhaps the illustrious Wente also studied at some point), what you pay for a service is in no way related to the quality of that service. So let’s start cutting!Tweet