May 13, 2021

MTS Awards Life and Honourary Memberships

Today, MTS recognized the accomplishments of two dedicated members: Ian MacIntyre, who was made a Life Member of the Society, and Terry Price, named an Honourary Member. Due to the pandemic, at the 2020 MTS Provincial Council AGM we were unable to appropriately recognize the accomplishments of these two individuals, as well as Nancy Kerr, also awarded a Life Membership. Ian and Terry delivered remarks via video this morning, and Nancy will be recognized at a later date. Our profound thanks and congratulations to these members for their sustained and valuable contributions to the life of the Society.

MTS President Sends Message to Teachers

The following are excerpts from President James Bedford’s address to the virtual MTS AGM:

Last year I spoke to you about the positive relationship we were building with then Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen. Throughout the spring and summer, and into the fall we spoke regularly with the Minister. We both knew and said that we did not always agree, but we spoke about mutual concerns. And we did get real action in response to some of those conversations. I would like to be able to say the same of Minister Cullen, but our single conversation four months ago speaks volumes.

I suspect, as you likely do, that Bill 64 has much to do with the current relationship, or lack thereof. Bill 64 is not a reflection of the K-12 Education Review Commission. You know that because you participated in the Commission and spoke volumes to Commissioners. You have read the Report and its recommendations. And you know those recommendations have little, perhaps nothing to do with Bill 64. Like many, I would not blame you if you thought Bill 64 had been written long before the K-12 Education Review was even a twinkle in anyone’s eye. Bill 64 is much like vaccinations for education workers, where there were only fantastical ideas of travel out of Canada from decision makers, and apparent lack of consultation with anyone, including those in North Dakota. What is in Bill 64 is not linked to any consultation with stakeholders, it is simply the manifestation of partisan politics to allow government to take direct control of public education in our province. Let’s remove the uncomfortable issues of fair pay for those who dedicate their careers to public education. Let’s remove collegiality from our schools by separating principal teachers from those they work with. Let’s remove knowledgeable input of those educated voices within the system. Let’s remove the discomfort of recognizing the true impacts of poverty and doing anything constructive about it. Let’s remove teaching about those awkward and inconvenient subjects like Reconciliation, human sexuality, substance abuse, Indigenous languages and maybe even democracy, as the intent is to remove democracy from public education.

We, as a Society, have been loud and clear in our opposition to Bill 64 and we will continue to do so. I sometimes wonder if our voices and those of our members are slightly muted against the backdrop of all the other voices in the Province in opposition to Bill 64. The real question is, outside of government MLA’s, where is the support for Bill 64? Where is the support for potentially closing huge numbers of schools across our province and devastating communities? Where is the support for removing democratic voice for public education and replacing it with partisan politics? Where is the support for turning our students into a commodity, where their success or failure will be assessed through international standardized tests interpreted by those without formal education training and with limited resources? Where is the support for turning our public schools into businesses, where success or failure will be based on an annual school ranking list? I believe that the supporters are thirty-six government MLA’s, and very few others.

Our work in opposition to Bill 64 continues, as it will throughout the remainder of spring, into summer and getting louder in the fall. At the same time, we must also advocate for the safety and well being of all members in schools. I will admit that this has been challenging because of the diversity of views among our membership. Our strength is found in both our diversity and our encouragement of members to use and raise their voices. We are sometimes challenged by this in the positions we take. Scientifically, face masks have been proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but they present challenges for some, both for those who wear them and those who teach. We certainly see these challenges manifest themselves in our communities and in our courts. There is no easy answer that will please everyone, but we find our decision-making firmly rooted in advocating for the safest possible working conditions for members.

Provincial Executive Welcomes New Members

There will be one new face on the MTS provincial executive after a vote by delegates to the 102st Annual General Meeting of the Provincial Council.

There were five positions open for members-at large.

Newly elected was:

  • Lindsay Brown – Seven Oaks

Re-elected were:

  • Sonja Blank – Mountain View
  • Carla Bouchard – Pembina Trails
  • Kent McPherson – St. James Assiniboia
  • Cynthia Taylor – Louis Riel

Mental Health Workshop to be Offered by Society

The Society will offer an annual workshop intended for members interested in exploring ideas related to wellness and teacher mental health.

The decision was brought forward to address and prioritize the mental health and well-being of educators, especially because of the challenges they have had to face and continue to face during the pandemic.

MTS to Join the Manitoba Federation of Labour

The Society will join the likes of MNU, MGEU and UMFA in joining the Manitoba Federation of Labour (MFL) effective September 1, 2021.

“The provincial government has done nothing but attack the public education system in Manitoba,” says the rationale put forth by the MTS Provincial Executive, “and the list of examples expands with each passing week: another education funding announcement that amounts to a reduction, interference in the collective bargaining process, secrecy surrounding the Education Modernization Act, and silence regarding the release of the K-12 Commission report. Joining the MFL is not only an act of solidarity with all public sector workers in Manitoba but would be a huge benefit to the 16,600 members of the Society. There is no greater need for this show of support and collective strength than right now.”

Vice-President Nathan Martindale said that the move will give MTS “a seat at the table, and the opportunity to work collaboratively with other unions.”

Affiliation to the MFL also requires affiliation to the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) with total cost to members set at $22.20 per year. Members will also pay an additional $3.48 per year to local Labour Councils.

FAQs on joining MFL here.

Society to Lobby Government to Make MTS PD Day Mandatory

It has been resolved that the Society lobby the provincial government to make MTS PD Day mandatory for school divisions/districts to release MTS members for professional development.

With amalgamations ahead, the Society wants to ensure that all members continue to have access to MTS PD Day and ensure that the hard work volunteered by SAGE groups are able to continue for future years.

Member Fees Up Slightly

Delegates to the MTS Annual General Meeting approved a new budget, with the membership fee slightly higher than the previous year.

The annual fee for full members will be $1,047, up from $1,042.