DAN CEARNS, The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: CUPE local 997 is concerned about the Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB) recently giving layoff notices to over 70 staff members.

At a board meeting on Tuesday, June 14th, the local union’s president Bill Campbell made a deputation to trustees. He noted there have been “significant numbers of layoff notices issued for custodial staff [and] educational assistants (EA).”

“Educational support workers, such as EAs, custodians, and school secretaries, play a fundamental role in students’ ability to achieve their potential. These employees, our members, are frontline supports for students, supporting them with their learning and ensuring that the learning and working environments are safe for all,” Mr. Campbell stressed.

Mr. Campbell noted a lot of custodial staff have been working long overtime hours.

“Many of our custodial staff report they have worked between 40 and 80 hours of overtime this year. What will happen next year with fewer custodians in the schools? Will the overtime opportunities be increased at a higher cost to maintain the cleaning standard? Or will the cleaning standards in our schools be reduced as a result of reduced staffing due to layoffs?”

However, in a statement, TLDSB spokesperson Carolynne Bull explained these layoffs are the result of reduced funding for the board.

“Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB) values all of our employees. Unfortunately, for the 2022-2023 school year, the Education Worker Protection Fund (EWPF) funding that was available in previous years to hire additional staff positions has expired, resulting in layoff notices being issued to some individuals. As we continue our ongoing staffing processes throughout the school year, we will work to offer those individuals opportunities to work full-time hours and, where possible, return them to permanent status. TLDSB will continue to ensure we have the best possible supports and resources in place to advance student achievement and well-being for all TLDSB students.”

Later in the meeting, Superintendent Traci Hubbert stated layoff notices don’t always mean job losses.

“27 percent of the notices issued to custodial staff were layoffs of additional responsibility only. What that means is, based on decreases in staffing, some schools will no longer have a Lead Hand position, but the individual in that role will still maintain their full-time permanent position. So, absolutely there is a decrease in salary,” she said. “But there isn’t a reduction of a body in a school in those scenarios. There are other scenarios where we have people laid off anywhere from their full hours to a reduction of one hour in a particular shift.”