Platform

As candidate for the next President of our union, I have a great deal of experience of where we as an organization have been, a deep understanding of where we are presently and a clear vision of where the NSTU needs to be in the future.

Preparation Time

In order to perform at the level teachers expect of themselves, the workload must become manageable for many of our members. Teachers in elementary, middle school, and high school as well as specialists have an unrealistic workload without time to properly prepare for the myriad of responsibilities that they face each day. Members are overwhelmed. Such things as teaching too many classes, too many students in light of soft caps on class size, meeting the diverse needs of each learner without the proper support, administrative duties concerning data input and updating records.


For the past two years,the week after the December break , the government has granted teachers a week to use as self directed professional development. That week was a valuable time which teachers used to develop teaching practices and assignments for online learning as well as to deal with the backlog of reports, update TIENET, student documents, and many of the other administrative requirements that overwhelm members.


As President I will work to not only increase the 12.5% scheduled prep time but also include this week of self directed professional learning and planning. With the right leadership, this can be achieved in the collective bargaining process.

Collective Bargaining

In the next calendar year, we will begin the collective agreement bargaining process. As President, I would make sure that the NSTU is ready. Negotiation is not only the back-and-forth that occurs at the table. There are significant outside factors that affect negotiations. We saw this very clearly when a previous McNeil government tried to use public opinion to sway the track that negotiations would take. They tried to use the Teachers’ Pension Plan as a bargaining tool. It didn’t matter that the TPP is not a collective bargaining item, but an entity on its own over which both the government and NSTU have equal responsibility. However, it was used as a tool against the reputation of teachers.

We are the NSTU. We need to capitalize on the powerful resource that is the NSTU membership to set the stage, before and during negotiations. We do this by giving a stronger voice to the members and organizing them to be involved in each of the three major political parties of Nova Scotia. The NSTU is a nonpartisan organization but that does not mean we should not exercise our democratic rights and responsibilities as citizens and engage in the political process across the province. We have a wide and varied membership, a membership that is intelligent, talented, and has much to offer. With the proper professional learning opportunities, our members can and should be motivated to bring change in the political realm. We have that power. As president of the NSTU I would ensure that ALL regions across the province are positioned to bring about positive change for educators of Nova Scotia.

Together, we can become engaged in the political process and understand the pulse of politics in Nova Scotia. A reactive approach, dealing with political situations as they occur, does nothing to harness our power. A proactive approach to public awareness and public relations would help deflect misinformation and disinformation used against us to sway public opinion. This improved public perception, our success, our wellness, is about us, all of us, together. Let me use my voice to strengthen yours. Together, we can strengthen our profession.


After the past two years of global pandemic we have seen many challenges of public education emerge for all to see. We have seen the strain on teachers, which, in turn, further stresses the system. As a result, we need to ensure that proper inputs and safeguards are put in place to reinforce the weakened parts of the education system. Along with an increase in preparation time, an increase to salaries is a must. Inflation in Nova Scotia increased by 5% in just the last year alone. At the very least, if this increase in inflation is not matched in salary during the next round of bargaining then we are effectively taking a pay cut.


For the past two years, the government has treated us as an essential service. We were the ones who fed, clothed, and kept our students safe and healthy. Schools are the best place for children. Teachers, who welcome students to school, need to be valued as such. We deserve to be seen as the essential members of society we’ve been recognized as during the pandemic.

Pension

A major concern for many members is the health of the Teachers’ Pension Plan. As President, I would work to ensure members have the security of a reliable and robust financial future, safe into retirement. Currently the mandate of the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Pension Plan Panel is to review the TPP, consult with members, and make recommendations to ensure we have a fully-funded pension. Upon release of these recommendations, the membership must decide what actions must be taken. I want to ensure that we do not have a two-tiered system where some members receive benefits which others do not.


The Nova Scotia government is a full partner in the Teachers’ Pension Plan and is responsible for 50% of the unfunded liabilities. As President, I will encourage the government to take steps that would benefit all: Hire more teachers in order to change the ratio to have more members paying in than taking out. Although the benefits to the education system would be incredibly positive in terms of workload issues, prep time, class sizes and specialized programs, I understand that this may not be eagerly embraced by the government. However, this notion may not be as far-fetched as one would think. The government is an equal partner and is responsible for half of the unfunded liability for the pension plan.

If elected, I will review the recommendations by the panel alongside NSTU staff, identifying the most important aspects of the pension as it relates to our members. I would ensure that the concerns of the membership are taken into consideration through both in person, local consultation and virtual consultation, gathering the members’ concerns and needs, and giving teachers a voice. Once gathered, NSTU staff decisions can be made based on input from members. Such decisions should align with the recommendations presented to the NSTU membership.

Collaboration between the NSTU and the government will allow us to reach outcomes that not only ensure a healthy pension plan but will also ensure a healthy economy and benefit all Nova Scotians. With my voice, and yours, I will bridge any gaps between the NSTU and government to achieve smart solutions for all.

Substitute Teachers

Our most vulnerable members need protection to ensure that we have a pool of capable, qualified substitutes who are well compensated for their services, and those amongst them who are honing their craft to pursue full time teaching jobs in the future.


The government now recognizes that the system needs more substitute teachers. Unfortunately, years of mistreatment, low pay, and lack of benefits mean that many qualified substitutes have left the profession to secure other employment opportunities where they are valued around which they can build their lives.

Alongside other pension solutions, adding more members paying into the plan is an opportunity to strengthen the pension plan. An increase in hires would increase the likelihood of retention of substitutes as jobs become more readily available. One way to achieve this increase is by giving term substitutes full-time status as substitute teachers for a set family of schools.

In order to maintain a healthy TPP we need to have teachers to replace those that retire and today's substitute teachers are tomorrow’s teachers, and tomorrow’s contributors to the pension plan.

As President, I will advocate for changes which will attract, retain, and effectively move substitute teachers into a permanent place in the education system. Fairness and equity must be applied to our substitute teachers. They are valued and should be respected. For example, substitutes who are booked for a day and school is canceled should be paid for that day. The number of consecutive days needed before accessing full rate of pay needs to be reduced from the current 18. Substitute teaching in Nova Scotia needs to be an attractive, desired occupation, and a job that pays living wages above the poverty line.


During job action I used my strong voice with clear messages to effectively amplify NSTU concerns to our members, the public, and government. I spoke out at law amendments, on traditional media outlets on television, radio, and print, as well as on social media platforms.


As President of the NSTU, I will stand up for you, and your voice … our voice … will be heard.


On May 25th, vote for

A Strong Voice,

A Proven Voice,

Your Voice.

Vote Peter Day for NSTU President.

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