"It is unacceptable that these dedicated workers are vilified in the Legislature for protecting themselves from harm at work.” - Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President
Toronto (26 April 2012) - Educational assistants (EAs) recommend that Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Rod Jackson learn what it really means to work in an Autism Spectrum Disorder classroom by paying a visit.
Responding to false statements made by Conservative MPP Jackson in the Ontario Legislature about educational assistants, Warren (Smokey) Thomas, Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) President, spoke out adamantly saying, “OPSEU condemns the attack on educational assistants made by MPP Jackson. These workers deserve a safe workplace where they are protected from harm at all times. It is unacceptable that these dedicated workers are vilified in the Legislature for protecting themselves from harm at work.”
Educational assistants are often women, working for low wages.
OPSEU Local President, Silvanna Petersen, is an EA in Simcoe County. She has suffered numerous attacks in her workplace, “Like many EAs, I have been bitten, spat on, scratched, hit, kicked and had my hair pulled many times. No one should have to go to work every day with the risk of being injured,” said Petersen. “I am astounded that an elected official would make such uninformed claims. This is a complex issue. Educational assistants feel belittled and demeaned by the distorted claims that have been made recently by MPP Rod Jackson and others.”
“I suspect that Mr. Jackson has never stepped foot in an Autism Spectrum Disorder class where education support workers have to wear personal protective equipment such as spit guards, kevlar gloves, body armour and occasionally have to carry protective shields to ensure their safety and the safety of the students they support. I recommend that Mr. Jackson visit a classroom to see what the work really entails.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE