Bluewater teachers rally in the rain

Dock News photo

A steady rain didn't deter about 80 Bluewater teachers and education support workers from rallying outside MPP Bill Walker's Owen Sound office Friday afternoon. 

OSDSS teacher and Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation rep Betty-Jo Raddin says they're worried about the cuts to thousands of teaching positions as well as the implications of e-learning. 

While the province estimates it will be phasing out close to 3,500 positions over the next four years, Raddin figures it'll mean the loss of 51 positions across Grey Bruce public schools - something she says will be devastating for small, rural schools.  

She says she's also gone over the the E-learning stats for the last three years and of  the students who attempted it, only 58% of them completed it  and they were primarily senior level academic students.  

"Most people learn better with a teacher in front of them".

When asked whether she thought the teachers were getting enough support Raddin says "we're getting some support yes". 

Social media sites have been filling up with vitriol directed at teachers while lauding many of the changes being implemented by the Doug Ford government.  

Raddin did not go inside Walker's office to speak with him but says they do have a meeting planned for next month as well as another rally on their next PD day. 

Dock News photo 

Meanwhile Dock News did go inside Walker's office to speak with him. 

While he didn't go out to talk to the teachers he did tell us he respects their right to protest. 

He says the PC's were elected to make changes and that's what they're going to do. 

"You always want more but we have a $347 billion debt and that means if we don't address this at some point you're going to have a lot more drastic things happen somewhere down the line.  You can't spend $40 million more a day and expect things not to change."

Walker says Ontario's had declining enrollment across the province but the number of teachers hasn't changed.

"No one else in business would do that -   if numbers go down,  maintain the same levels or go up."