Trustee: Trading EAs for ECEs won’t work

There may be a light at the end of the tunnel for more than 400 educational assistants (EAs) facing layoffs by the Toronto District School Board. But one East York school trustee says the so-called solution isn’t going to alleviate problems in her ward.

On April 11, the TDSB approved a partnership with Humber College, the Ministry of Education and the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 400. The partnership will begin this September and will allow EAs who are facing layoffs to participate in a program that will let them retrain as Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) for kindergarten classes.

Schools will still have to adjust when they lose their EAs, while they begin their ECE training. But once the province’s promised full-day kindergarten is implemented, they can go back to the classroom while completing their programs.

The other option for the EAs facing layoffs is to take severance pay.

Sheila Cary-Meagher says the plan has serious gaps.

“I have a problem,” said the trustee for Ward 16/Beaches-East York, “and the problem is that I have 16 schools that won’t become full-day kindergarten until 2013 and eight more until 2014,” Cary–Meagher said.

She explained that some of these schools have around 800 students, and they can’t function safely without keeping some EAs.

“We need enough EAs in these schools,” she said. “They are a crucial stop-gap. We can’t turn out backs on them. I am deeply concerned we are stripping those schools too low, where they can’t function safely.”