Education support workers left out from LDSB plea for frozen wages to increase

"We have never seen support from trustees shown for education workers wages as they have just shown for Sr. executive staff, most of whom are on the annual sunshine list," Erin Provost, President CUPE 1480, said. 

CUPE 1480, the union representing education support workers at the LDSB, was taken aback this past week by Limestone District Board Trustees advocating for wage raises for executive staff, but not for other education workers.

A letter sent to the Minister of Education, Honourable Stephen Lecce, two weeks ago by the Chair of LDSB Trustees, Suzanne Ruttan, made a plea about reconsidering a decade-long freeze on executive compensation to the local Board across the provincial education sector. 

“In 2010, with the passing of the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act (BPSAA), the Act was presented as a measure of fiscal restraint. This was followed by the amendment made in 2012 to freeze salaries for executive employees. In 2017, the Ministry initiated the Executive Compensation Program. Staff and trustees worked diligently to present a comprehensive Executive Compensation Framework approved by the Ministry and the Board of Trustees in early 2018. The approved Executive Compensation Framework was then unexpectedly frozen in August 2018,” the report read. 

However, the report made no mention that in 2018, the Ford government brought in Bill 124, which restricted public sector wage increases to 1%. 

“We have never seen support from trustees shown for education workers wages as they have just shown for Sr. executive staff, most of whom are on the annual sunshine list,” Erin Provost, President CUPE 1480, said. 

The Ontario Sunshine list publishes the salary, benefit, and severance information of public employees making $100,000 or higher. 

According to the statement shared by Ruttan, the letter under discussion is “regarding a very small group of employees with unique and complex circumstances where salaries have been frozen by specific provincial legislation that does not apply to other employee groups,” wrote Ruttan.

“While some individuals within this group have seen salary changes through promotion, there are others whose compensation has been locked in place. This has created inequities within this group and gradual salary compression with other groups of employees who have received modest increases over the past decade, including the 1% as part of recent provincial agreements.” 

The 1% increase in salary was not provided to the group under consideration of the letter under discussion. This has caused school boards across the province, including local school boards, to write letters to the Minister of Education in hopes of increasing salaries for executive staff. 

Ruttan also shared that trustees are concerned about salaries across the education sector. They have done and will keep going with the advocacy efforts for everyone in the education sector; however, “all salaries are determined through provincial negotiations with specific labour groups, not negotiations at the local school board level. Likewise, local school boards have no authority to increase salaries for any group of employees.” 

CUPE 1480 explains that they are not against anyone being fairly compensated, but they are disappointed to be singled out this time. 

“A decision to advocate for wage raises for the entire education sector would have been more appropriate,” Provost said. 

“When one group is struggling to make ends meet at a salary that has been stagnant for more than a decade, it’s a slap in the face to see our own elected trustees advocating for more money for a small group of individuals who are already compensated quite well in comparison to the larger groups,” Provost added. 

According to the Ontario Municipal and School Board Elections, the role of the trustee is to maintain a focus on student achievement, well-being and equity and to participate in making decisions that benefit the Board’s entire jurisdiction while representing the interests of their constituents. 


  1. It takes a special kind of arrogance to stand up for people making $100k+ a year. What are these trustees thinking? And not a word about how EAs, ECEs, etc. must be struggling. I hope people remember this let-them-eat-cake attitude when trustee elections come around.

  2. I wonder how many of the Sr. Staff have to work two jobs and constantly worry about how they will pay their mortgage and feed their families. In the past decade our salaries have actually gone down due to inflation, and our workload has increased dramatically. I hope we get that same support.

  3. This saddens me. These are the very individuals who can make a difference in the lives of EA’s, ECE’s and other support staff who are living below the poverty line. We have post secondary education and specialized training. We have years of experience and a very demanding position. We have gone years without a raise despite inflation rising. We have to work tirelessly at the school, then work all night trying to made ends meet in a city where rent and cost of living has doubled since our last measly raise.
    It’s no wonder many are leaving the jobs they love to seek employment that they hate, just ti pay the bills.

  4. This confuses me. Maybe I am misunderstanding.

    The Sunshine Report has shown grand increases (and by grand increases, I mean $1000s) to executive staff. From the Director on down, Superintendents, Head of HR, ITS senior staff, Managers…we have seen salary increases by $15,000 or more in just the last five years. Just compare their salaries year to year.

    The assistant manager of Facility Services received a huge raise and was let go the next year. Anyone who looks at the sunshine report annually will acknowledge senior staff have been very well cared for, while CUPE 1480 was this close to waking out on strike, but instead accept a 1% increase.

  5. The salary inequity within the School Board is pronounced. It’s difficult for the lowest paid Education Workers to advocate for reasonable wages because the general public thinks the generous wages are throughout the sector. Having the Trustees advocate on behalf of the highest paid and neglecting to mention the lowest paid is just another affront and another obstacle to overcome – just to get paid a fair wage. It shouldn’t be like this.

  6. This job is one that should be valued, some of the toughest kids are followed directly by an EA. Ea’s assist with every aspect of classroom management, not only teaching academics but life skills that these children need. The fact that ea’s make peanuts let’s us know that we and the services we provide are under valued.

  7. In my experience, educational assistants are often the essential “glue” that holds a classroom together. We wear many hats in our jobs and must be flexible on a daily basis, often going above and beyond to ensure students are supported. Our wages need to reflect the multitude of responsibilities that we have.

  8. It’s time Education support staff get paid what we are worth. Schools can’t run without us. ECEs only get paid for 6hrs a day, our lunch break is not paid. We are teaching partners yet we get paid about 1/3 rd of a teachers salary. We dont get paid planning time like our co- teachers do. It’s ridiculous really. We are required to pay a yearly DECE fee of almost $200 in order to be able to work as an ECE and we also have to fulfill professional development on our own time and with our own $$$. It takes many many hours of our personal time. It’s high time we get the respect and pay we deserve.

  9. Completely outrageous and unacceptable, the time has come for action, this has to stop. For too long support staff have been undervalued and trod upon, it’s time for support staff to stand up and say ‘ we won’t take this anymore’.

  10. As a hard working DECE, you have no idea how much this upsets me. The smiles and hugs from my students are what gets me through the day, but certainly doesn’t put food on the table. I feel the trustees need to spend more time in the classrooms to see who really earns that raise!

  11. This is disappointing! And makes me have more anger. We don’t make enough to survive on our salary.. I also have extra JOBS to make ends meet. I work so hard as a RECE /DECE… support staff are underpaid and under valued! We do not get the recognition or pat we deserve .

  12. Yes we are EAs but one day when a student asked what EA stood for I asked them what they thought it was…their response was an Everything Adult asking what they meant by that they stated we are like my moms, dads, friends, teachers, doctors, dentists and fun. I think that was the most honest words I have ever heard. This student is right we do everything everyday for ALL students. Yes we are assigned to students each year but on top of that we help student no matter what it takes even if it means we are sitting on the cold cement floor missing our lunch just to be an ear to someone that just needs to talk, we are spending our breaks finding food or clothing or programming for something that has come up last minute. We are staying late and coming in early to make sure things are ready to go so when our students come into school they have the best possibility to have a great start to their day because we don’t know what happened at home while they were not at school. We are spending our nights learning how to find the easiest ways to help our students access different platforms online.
    As much as teachers try they don’t have enough time i their day to do programming for some of our highest needs students so we are doing this on our own time. We love what we do and that’s why we stick with it no matter how hard it gets but the burnout rate is becoming real and we are going to continue to loose some really amazing staff because we are having to work multiple jobs and manage a family along with take care of ourself. The board is all about well being yet they are making us max out our stress levels and have no time to take care of ourselves. Something needs to change and it doesn’t begin with the people who make $100+ a year it needs to start at the bottom where Cupe members are and until the sunshine members walk in our shoes even for an hour they will never understand or respect what we do and how we are the glue of the school. I am an EVERYTHING ADULT (EA)

  13. Simple Math
    20 years ago my wage was $21.50, today it is $24,11. That’s a $2.61 raise in two decades. I have to work two jobs just too feed my children. This is no longer acceptable as a school board employee.

  14. As a caretaker for over 22 years this is very degrading to support staff that our trustees would send a letter to the Ministry on behalf of senior staff that are on the sunshine list.
    If trustees feel they need to write a letter to the Ministry, it should have been in support of all education workers.

  15. as a single parent trying to provide for my family I am looking at other side hustles just to try and make ends meet at home. 15 years ago a person could buy a house and support an entire family on this one income alone. The trustees seem to think they deserve a raise but make no mention of us support staff who are actually the backbone of the schools. Food prices have skyrocketed< gas prices have skyrocketed, rent and mortgages have skyrocketed and yet our income remains stagnant. minimum wage has increased by 2 dollars in the last few years and all we got was a 1 percent raise and then Ford turned around and gave his cabinet a HUGE raise. The trustees clearly don't feel we need to be able to support our families or they would be advocating for us as well. very frustrating to say the least. Our contract expires end of August and I for one will be very vocal about what we deserve this time in bargaining. Cupe 1480 deserves better. Time for action!!

  16. I will break this down as simple as I can. I am an EA. I bought a house 5 years ago for $235,000. My credit is perfection. My paycheck was not enough for me to get a mortgage on my own and I required a family member to own a portion of my home in order to please the bank. I can’t imagine how EAs are struggling NOW to buy a home. My mortgage payment is less than half of the cost of rent that my co workers (also EAs) are paying. Those co-workers can’t get out of the rent cycle because we don’t make enough money for them to be able to save for a downpayment for a house. And we all have 1-2 extra jobs to pay our bills and put food on our tables. It is EAs that take on the most stressful of situations in our schools. It is EAs who are doing double the work, because our schools that request more EA support are getting denied.

    Fun fact of the day: If an EA asks for an extra 30$ to be taken out of their pay for taxes, OSAP deams the income too low to be able to afford to make payments and allows for back to back deferrals (for YEARS).

    Please show support staff all of your love. We don’t get paid enough…

  17. There are many of us making $22,000/year with a post-secondary education. Many have completed extra training – with no wage increase. Our wages have increased less than $3 in the past 15 years, yet average inflation rate of 2.05% per year between 2007 and today – a total increase of 35.60%.

  18. We are the cheerleaders on the football field of education! We lift students up both literally, emotionally, mentally and academically! We talk about the pillars that Limestone stands for ~ we are the lowest paid on those pillars and yet we put on our Kevlar when required, we pour formula into G-tubes, we wipe away tears, assist and develop programming without planning time, cover lunch hour breaks when others won’t to support our peers who need a break and for that time our pay drops even lower to minimum wage. We manage seizures, spoon feed, are the first line of exposure for physical outbursts, emotional dysregulation, provide 1:1 learning despite being assigned up to 8 students per EA!

    We are the EA in tEAm but not fiscally acknowledged as such! We strive to help all students reach their full potential yet ours is undervalued year after decade!

    I love being an EA ~ best job ever but it would be nice to be truly valued!

  19. As an advocate for all CUPE 1480 workers. We have lost significant numbers from our work force over the past 8 years. The work is downloaded on the remainder of the workers. Yet no pay raises. LDSB has sent some jobs through pay equity but it never results in pay raises. The requirements for jobs is increased at the same wage. I have even seen a pay decrease for some job classes because they changed the descriptions but were expected to continue doing the same job (decrease of $4/hr).

    Secretaries are expected to do the same job as always. Student attendance, School budgeting and bill payment, School supplies ordering, and school security. Buzzing in people into the school. Having to question people at the door with no training in security, no way to screen threats until in the school (government imposed procedure and no raise). In may schools the office staff are asked to watch children that are hurt or acting out (dangerous).

    Custodial are responsible for school security and safety. The additional measures added because of Covid. They work all summer in intense heat. Moving all furniture to wax floors and clean carpets and then move it all back and clean it. Also responsible for any additional jobs that are downloaded on them. Truly a thankless job.

    EA’s and DECE are often the front line for everything in the schools. Dealing with multiple students in a day (assigned to them) and others that need attention (taking them away from students that need them). Every year they do not know where they will be working. Laid off every summer and not certain of their responsibilities come September. This group is a labour of love because there is no money. Even though their numbers have gone down and student needs go up.

    So many more support positions and all we were given was 1% because the government legislated it. Made it law. The executives have hard jobs but are paid very well.

    1% of 25000/year is an extra $250/year.
    1% of 150000/year is an extra $1500/year. That is the low end of the executives.
    This seems to be little unfair don’t you think.

    190 board staff on the sunshine list for 2020 and probably next month we will see over 200 on the 2021 list.

    $20,000,000+ which is the equivalent of 800 EAs.

    Trustees are elected by the village. It takes a village to raise a child. The Trustees need to be investing in the support and not the people that do not work with children or even see children.

    I think it is very demoralizing that a person that makes so much more then most feel entitled to more. If you can buy a luxury car every year with the wage differences to your employees. Something is wrong.

    This raise will come from somewhere and chances are it will be job losses. Class size increase. Less for schools. More fund raising.

  20. I think that this is a very insulting situation.
    The trustees should be representing everyone not just a few.
    If you do look at the sunshine list for the past few years you will find that the board has gotten around the raise issue by creating new job titles that are awarding substantial raises.
    Then for the trustees to say that everyone else has gotten modest raises??? This to me is what is insulting, to imply that everyone else has been fairly taken care of and we all should thank the lord that we just have a job…
    What ever group you are talking about (cupe, teachers etc) have not kept up with the cost of living for the last 10 years. Every year we are going farther behind and actually losing money. I just heard that the cost of living is now at 5.1%.. That means this years bargaining OSBCU should be going for 5.1 plus the 1% that ford has permitted… at a minimum. I really think that the trustees owe all of the working groups in Limestone an apology.

  21. Although I am newly returning to the school board, after a leave to stay at home with my daughter since 2015; I have experienced the added pressure that the restrictions and extra rules COVID has enforced since my return. For example, I recently had to take an unpaid isolation for 5 days, due to being sick. I, along with many others are already struggling to make ends meet on our current salary. I know many people who are working nights and weekends in order to just be able to cover their bills. I have been considering this option myself, which means I will also need to find and pay for childcare for my daughter after school. How can anyone really get ahead when prices of living increases, yet our wages remain the same (with a less than $3 raise over 15 years)? It is a rewarding job, which is what keeps us here, and we deserve the same acknowledgement as anyone else doing their part.