Open letter supporting CUPE School Board Workers – by NSFL President, Danny Cavanagh

April 17, 2023

School support workers are:

  • The unsung heroes.
  • Often working behind the scenes.
  • Working tirelessly to ensure that our schools run smoothly and that our students receive the best possible education.

Yet, they often go unnoticed, undervalued, and underpaid. The Nova Scotia Federation of Labour supports the 5400 CUPE school support workers in Nova Scotia and urges our government to value their contribution to our public education system.

School support workers, including teacher assistants, library technicians, administrative assistants, custodians, and many more, are responsible for various tasks essential to our school’s operation. In short, they are the backbone of our schools. Despite the crucial role that school support workers play in the education system, they are often overlooked and undervalued. Many are part-time or casual workers who earn minimum wage, or a bit more often, working two jobs to make ends meet. This is particularly concerning given that school support workers are predominantly women, more likely to live in poverty, and experience inequality in the labour market.

Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of school support workers for children’s and staff’s health and safety. They have been at the frontlines of the pandemic response, ensuring that our schools are clean, safe, and equipped with the necessary resources to prevent the spread of the virus. Yet, they still need the recognition or compensation they deserve.

It is time for our government to recognize the value of school support workers and their work, and invest in them as an integral part of our public education system. This means providing fair wages, benefits, job security, professional development and advancement opportunities. It also means treating school support workers with respect and dignity and recognizing them as essential workers who play a vital role in our communities.

A Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) study found that Nova Scotia has one of the lowest wages for school support workers in Canada. The study also found that school support workers face high levels of stress and burnout due to workload, lack of resources, and job insecurity. It is unacceptable that those who help shape the future of our province are treated so poorly.

We urge our government to take action to recognize and value the contributions of school support workers in our public education system. Providing fair wages, job security, and respect and recognition will go a long way in improving these essential workers’ lives and ensuring that our schools continue providing the best education for our children. 

Premier Houston, we can do better. 

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