What is a few million dollars… here and there. and there. and there.

Recently contract negotiations were conducted between the province of Ontario and some teachers unions. The teachers were adamant that this had nothing to do with wages, it was all about the students welfare. 

In most public sector jobs, wages have been frozen for a while, private sector jobs have been this way for some time, recessions sort of dictate prudent spending. Yes I know the government often ignores prudence. ok runs away from it like it was a plague… 

So when the strike was settled, contrary to promising there was no more money to grant raises, it seems this did take place, though it was not about wages it was all about the students welfare. uhmmm.

Now something is hitting the fan and it is not air.

It has been released that the government, in negations with the unions. Gave the unions some money, not much, just 2.5 million.

What for?

Well that is a good question, but we won’t find that out, it was done in secret, now that the secret is out, they maintain this was done to cover the unions negotiating expenses. HUH?

How was this done? Well we won’t know that either as there were no invoices, no receipts, no accountability in any manor was taken by the government, here is the money. thanks.

Well Education Minister Liz Sandals said (from the Globe and Mail) “

that there are no itemized accounts of exactly what taxpayers’ money paid for. “You’re asking me if I have receipts and invoices. No, I don’t,” Ms. Sandals said when asked if there was any accounting for the expenses, adding she’d “make no apologies” for the payouts.

The minister said she was satisfied $2.5-million was reasonable based on her own knowledge of bargaining expenses. The unions had to spend money for officials to travel to meetings in Toronto, stay in hotels and order pizza during negotiating sessions, she said.

“We know what hotel rooms cost, we know what meeting rooms cost, we know what the food costs, we know what 100 pizzas cost,” she said. “You don’t need to see every bill when you’re doing an estimate of costs. I don’t ask.”

So I am not a business major, but I can push buttons on my calculator, I know I am multi talented. lets see… 100 pizza’s  $800 to $1400 ?  likely they had some sort of gourmet pizza flown in from France though… 

Hotel rooms…  a comfortable room at $200 a night? is that fair? I mean this is or should not be some sort of entitled luxury item right?

so at $200 a night… that is something like 12 THOUSAND nights of hotel rooms… eeeps. I didnt think that many people were involved in the negotiations. 

Hey wait, isn’t this the unions job? To do negotiations? 

So the questions were asked… in past negotiations, were there payouts then as well?

Her answer? “I’m not sure that it is useful to go back and rake through the history,” she said.

Uhm? It is not? Isn’t that how criminals are caught? uhm..

also from the Globe

Premier Kathleen Wynne dodged questions on the subject in the daily Question Period.

She is pretty dodgy. 

It is interesting that the unions that received this money spent so much getting this government elected. Millions and millions. I wonder why?

Future investments?


“And Education Minister Liz Sandals has admitted that the government has repeatedly given such payouts to teachers’ unions over the past decade to compensate them for the cost of collective bargaining with the province. The payments raise tough questions about the government’s claims it is not spending new money to reach labour settlements.”

They are using old money?

I am very annoyed. When is the next election?


Edit… The amount of payouts to unions now has climbed to almost 5 million.



About sensuousamberville

I am a Practitioner, teacher and student. I think we should always be students, we should keep our minds open, to continue to learn. :-) Now a mother of two little ones.

6 responses »

  1. That is a whole bunch of complicated, I can appreciate that. As to unions, well I am personally grateful for what they do. They are not all bad, though at times humans make mistakes. That said, I have to wonder what the money went for too. Seems high for what they said. Maybe there Is another cost not accounted for?
    As to how this may help student welfare…well I have a notion as to how teacher pay impacts performance, which is broug by about by negotiations, and then leading to student performance but the connection is by no means direct that I can see.
    I am left with more questions myself to honest.
    I hope the recession ends soon. Frozen pay and cuts are all round bleh for both public and private sectors. Is Canada coming out of it? I know it was late going in.

    • You need to get a cup of tea 🙂 this will not be a brief answer.

      Ontario dipped into a recession this year according to the blue print for the recession terms, a period of negative growth. We were not there very long, though growth trickled back up, for the large recession that we all had a few years back, recovery is slow and I think will remain very slow if it grows at all. Not just here though.


      I think we can attribute this to our “global economy”.

      How so?

      Everyone hears the term global economy and basic understanding tells them that the goods they purchase will or should drop in price, manufacturing will be more competitive as you are not just competing with the plant down the road, or across the city, but with plants around the world. So people smile and go yay, cheaper prices. To compete though, manufacturing costs, wages, will have to be similar to plants around the world.

      oh oh, but it snowballs.

      Lets use pick up trucks as an example to my mini economy. Ontario manufactured most of the pick up trucks for GM until recently, when GM moved the plant to Mexico where labour costs are much reduced. Ontario workers were accustomed to high wages and would not be willing to make the massive cuts to compete with the labour costs in Mexico. The unions said no way. So the plants here closed and moved, thousands lost their jobs. Unions lost dues collected from these workers.

      The government now enjoys less income as all those people are not paying taxes now, most are on social assistance until they find work. The immediate response is that the government must run a deficit budget. There is not enough income to cover expenses. This snowballs quickly as borrowing costs deepen the deficit quickly, then credit ratings drop and the costs rise even more.

      Fast responses by the governments are to cut infrastructure spending. Roads are not repaired, cuts are made to basic services, maintenance is not done on so many of the necessities, sewers, plumbing and so on.

      Just like a home, if you don’t do basic maintenance, this quickly escalates into costly repairs. Cities and the province quickly notice this, what was a not so costly maintenance job has turned into a costly repair. There are also costly repairs that should have been done, but were also not completed, so they have turned into a much more daunting fix. These things don’t go away. So they now have to spend money on this.

      Income for the government has not changed much, the jobs that were lost, many are still on social assistance, some have found positions that pay much less, so the taxes they pay, is much reduced.

      Retail notices the pinch, so their income drops, many retailers close, most do not make as near the profit they did before, so their tax contributions also diminish greatly. They lay off employees, more are on social assistance.

      Government can’t just print money, so cuts have to be made to spending, wages are frozen. Public sector workers become annoyed, they don’t want cuts. Understandably, but they have to look at the big picture. The money doesn’t exist.

      Global economy does not mean manufacturing has to compete globally, all positions have to.

      Nurses, doctors, construction workers, in Mexico do not make the same wages as here, why? Because there is not the same amount of money available to do this. Labours costs are lower there.

      A part of “global economy” is that it is the great equalizer. If manufacturing has to compete and make less money, that transfers through the entire system. Quickly or slowly, soon wages will reach a parity, it is inevitable. If the money is not there it can not be created. When manufacturing moves to areas of lower wages, the areas they left soon have lower wages as well. Or no wages. If a plant does not compete, it lays off workers. They don’t have the work they had before. The work went to the company in China that could do it for less.

      So while private sector companies make cuts, reduce wages, to stay in business, or close, public sector workers have to do the same. They may be driven to this kicking and screaming, governments may try to keep them happy but the cuts to other areas, to meet these wage increase demands will soon cause ripples. Ripples that become tidal waves. You can’t rob Peter to pay Paul.

      To meet the teachers pay demands for this past strike, money that was allocated to students with special needs was used, these programs will be reduced or eliminated to pay the teachers their increase. ” ….its all about the students”

      I have no problems with someone saying I wish to have more money, I dislike when they say it is in the interests of the students. I teach also.

      They also have to open their eyes, when they are told there is no money for increases, there is no money. Teaching is termed a contract position, you know when you start your year what you make, if you dislike this amount, then perhaps you should do something else. (not you personally, you as in the generic term)

      Unions were of great need at one time, labour was not much more than slave labour, conditions were deplorable, wages were dismal. But… if the money doesn’t exist, no matter how much the union puffs up and stomps their feet, it is not available. Private sector workers are making less or unemployed, this has to transfer to public sector workers too. The unions puffed up, dug in their heels and GM closed the plant, dismissed all the workers.

      The great equalizer, the global economy will dictate that. Quickly or slowly.

      I also have a great dislike for sneaky government spending, spending may be wrong term, but using money as they did to pay off the union is very disagreeable. There are other teachers unions that are in negotiations now, and their unions have made it clear they will not accept payments from the government. Secret payments are sneaky payments, dirty payments.

      eeeps it was very long, I hope you didn’t fall asleep. 😉

      • I did not fall asleep, and tea is good.
        Out here we had a freeze and we did not complain as we were happy to not have to take and cut per se. Our district having been conservative had a bigger savings account to weather the storm so to speak. Now we are bouncing back and our increases for cost of living and what not are back, so huzzah.
        I cannot fathom though the need for the payment then. Seems shifty and I am disappointed that they would do this. With the scrutiny given to unions this is not helping it is hurting. With the dissolution of unions as I have noted here poor wages, bad work conditions, poor treatment of employees, all are basically making a comeback.
        All this can be tied to a global economy no doubt. Why pay more when you can go to Mexico or Southeast Asia. The clothing industry is also a good example. Then when manufacturers move we all pay. Here were it not for tech it would be worse and even now we see that going more and more to places like India where the cost of living is vastly different.
        It is a conundrum. We need private companies here but we cannot be asked to compete with an area where rent is say 20 dollars a month as opposed to an area that is 1100.
        I think I read that in such cases once those poor areas have the factory their cost of living rises as does their wages and now rent went to 100 a on the but now the company seeking a cheaper place leaves them and boom, there goes their economic stability with little remorse on the company’s part. After all a game of profit.
        Seems like a never ending cycle to me.

  2. Erm, I’ve been away, missed a lot I see. WordPress or Yahoo I blame for not alerting me to your posts, thinks it is time to complain to someone, anyone, who is willing to or can do something about it. Have un-followed and followed again. To no avail. Anyway, that is not the point.. I mean to be addressing this post *grin*

    It sounds like you are heading towards a situation we experienced recently and still continue to.
    Unions aren’t budging, they are quite powerful, some are dodgy. That said, some actually get the job done. I love when politicians are dodgy, don’t you? how they justify paying one group off as opposed to another. I do not see teacher unions well supported here.
    I can’t speak for any other state. But I can say here in California, our teachers aren’t paid nearly enough to do the massive job they’re asking. Our state keeps falling lower and lower in terms of where we stand with the rest of the country. The East Coast, esp. New Jersey, New York, Baltmore and Boston, have schools that have surpassed California’s level of education. They have money given to their schools and these are just, regular public schools where children seem to excel with so many wonderful resources coming their way.

    Er, well, that was my two cents worth.

    • In your reader there is a spot to edit settings for the blogs you follow, I think the default is to have new posts show up in your reader but no email warnings. You may have to change this for the blogs to receive emails for new posts if you want them that way.

      It seems being a politician and being dodgy are going hand in hand. ugh.

      oh you have to give me a nickle now, our politicians stopped using cents a while back… bhaaa daaaa dum. we stopped using pennies too.

      • Sigh. I’ve gone into the reader and changed it many times, I then went into each blog and unfollowed, then follwed again. I do not like it when wordpress decides it must change things for me. Why can’t I have it the way I want. I feel a post brewing .
        Hmmm, I will be watching our politicians carefully, as they make all those campaign promises.. Dodgy indeed. Now there’s a word I miss. We used it in Australia a lot.. I don’t here.

        Oooh a nickle.. what? no cents or pennies.. sad!!

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