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Internal union poll shows parents support teachers over Ford government
QUEEN'S PARK -- As Ontario educators ramp up their fight with Premier Doug Ford’s government, internal union polling shows a majority of parents are choosing the province’s teachers over the Progressive Conservative government.
A leaked internal poll conducted on behalf of the Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation (OSSTF) found a “significant portion” of the population is watching the contract talks closely and most believe teachers and education workers are “the most reasonable parties” in the negotiations.
The Environics poll, conducted in late December, also found that two-thirds of Ontarians believe the Ford government’s education cuts “are more harmful to students than job action” such as work-to-rule campaigns or one-day strikes.
"Our polling has repeatedly shown us that the public supports the positions that we've taken at the bargaining table and absolutely opposes the destructive path that is laid out by Ford education agenda," OSSTF President Harvey Bischof told CTV News Toronto.
The union began weekly polling at the beginning of December to track the changing public mood during the labour strife.
CTV News obtained one of those polls conducted between Dec. 20 to Dec. 23, and the results provide insight into why unions feel confident in their position.
Of the 500 people polled: about 57 per cent said they sympathize with teachers and education workers over the Ford government; 56 per cent believe education unions are being more reasonable in the talks; and 59 per cent say teachers should keep pushing for a better deal.
"Over and over again the public says they trust educators to look out for the best interests of students and they don't trust the Ford government," Bischof said.
On Thursday, Ford maintained that the government has been fair with teachers’ unions and that parents are fed up with the escalation in job action.
“They're frustrated,” Ford told reporters at Queen’s Park. “They're frustrated that teachers can't stay in the classroom and negotiate at the same time."
Liz Stuart with the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association believes that parents are firmly behind Ontario teachers and characterizes the disruption to classrooms as a union’s “last line of defense.”
"The only thing we have left to really emphasize just how negative we believe these cuts are is to withdraw our labour, and parents have been very supportive."