All Posts By

Steven Tieulie

Ontario draft document proposes school staff help students with tube feeding, injection of meds

By | In The News

Ontario is considering a new policy that could see school staff perform some health services for students, according to a provincial government draft obtained by CBC News.

The document, which is for consultation purposes, proposes that school staff do tasks for students with disabilities. They may include cleaning of catheters, manual expression of the stomach and bladder (to help squeeze out urine), tube feeding, injecting medication, and oral or nasal suctioning.

When Nicole Lamont of Windsor first read the government draft, she thought it “was a joke.”

Her six-year-old daughter, Lilah, has a rare genetic disease known as spinal muscular atrophy Type 1. Lilah has a tracheostomy (surgically created opening in the neck), is on a ventilator and is tube-fed through her stomach. She also requires round-the-clock care from a nurse.

The thought of having an educator perform any health-related tasks on her daughter at school has Lamont worried and makes her uncomfortable.

“I was just kind of infuriated, to be honest with you,” said Lamont. “All kids with special needs already are living in a world that isn’t made for them as it is. They already have to fight for every single bit of care they do have.”

Lamont and her husband went through months of training in order to bring their daughter home from hospital, prompting many questions about how educational workers will be trained if this draft becomes a reality.

“RNs, RPNs, PSWs — they all went to school to be able to learn how to provide this care properly,” she said.

The government draft outlines training for the different health-related examples of tasks that could be given to educators. Depending on the task, it could include instruction from a primary health-care provider, parents or caregivers, or community health-care organizations.

Government updating 38-year-old policy 

A spokesperson for the Ontario education minister told CBC News they’re looking to update a policy on health care in schools that hasn’t been touched since 1984.

“Our government is working collaboratively with the Ministries of Children, Community and Social Service as well as the Ministry of Health to provide supports for students that require health and rehabilitation services in school … to align with current best practices to best serve Ontario students,” said Grace Lee, spokesperson for Education Minister Stephen Lecce. “We will continue to consult with stakeholders and partners to make sure we get this right for the most vulnerable children in our schools.”

But one Windsor union called the proposal a way to cut costs by spending less on medically trained nurses and putting more on the plates of already overloaded educational support staff.

“My biggest concern is mostly for the students,” said Tyler Campbell, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation’s education support staff bargaining unit in Windsor-Essex.

“We should be focused on education. We should be focused on helping our most vulnerable students. We can’t do that if we’re performing small medical procedures in our schools,” Campbell said. “Educational support staff do with all kinds of different scenarios during the day, but their main focus has to be on education.”

Education assistant ‘livid’ about draft policy

Fran Vangent said her 20-year job as an education assistant has changed drastically.

Adding some medical-related procedures to the mix simply wouldn’t work, said Vangent, who’s with the Greater Essex County District School Board.

“I was livid. I was absolutely livid,” said Vangent after reading the provincial government’s draft proposal. “I can’t even imagine.”

At the beginning of her career, Vangent remembers a “very low-key” work environment in a single classroom. Today, she’s regularly pulled into as many as four classrooms in a day. Large workloads and short staffing all contribute to what Vangent describes as burnout.

She said this is where the “guilt” and “like I’m not doing my job” feelings come in. “And burnout is me rehashing my entire day all the way home, wondering where I could have done better, where I should have been, did I pick that up, did I really need to take that 15-minute break, because if I would have stayed in the classroom, maybe I could have gotten to him.”

The Ministry of Education said this policy review was prompted, in part, because families told them the outdated health-care framework is a barrier for children with disabilities to attend school.

The province has heard from hundreds of families and stakeholders, and plans to develop a finalized policy in the coming months.

But from Lamont’s perspective, educators shouldn’t be providing medical care because “they didn’t go to school for that.”

In addition, she worries about liability, and wonders “who is responsible if something goes wrong.”

Report finds salaries for lowest-paid school staff have not kept up with inflation: CUPE

By | In The News


The salaries of the staff who care for some of the youngest and most vulnerable children in Ontario schools have dropped in real dollars over the last decade, according to a new report from the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the union representing many of them.

Salaries for the 55,000 CUPE educational support staff at the province’s elementary and secondary schools fell more than 11 per cent behind inflation, said the report released Thursday.

The average wage for CUPE school workers is $39,000, the report found.

The largest category of those workers — about 30 per cent — are educational assistants who help children with special education needs, such as autism and learning disabilities.

CUPE also represents custodians, office and library staff and early childhood educators who work alongside teachers in kindergarten classrooms.

Wages for CUPE workers increased 8.8 per cent (compounded) from 2012 and 2022, the report found, while inflation in Ontario during that time period went up 19 per cent.

If wages had kept up with the cost of living, the average CUPE school worker would have made an extra $4,000 last year, the report found.

The report blamed a combination of legislation by Ontario governments that have restricted wage increases for public sector employees and tough bargaining by management.

In contrast, unionized employees in the private sector have seen compounded wage increases over the past decade of an average 20.3 per cent. Municipal unions have averaged 19.1 per cent, unions in federally regulated workplaces have averaged 18.6 per cent and the Ontario broader public sector has averaged 12.2 per cent in increases, the report states.

The report also included a survey of 16,000 CUPE workers at schools.

The survey found that 51 per cent of those who responded have taken at least one extra job to make ends meet; 47 per cent agreed they struggled to pay monthly bills such as rent and car payments and 27 per cent agreed they had to “cut back on food.”

That sounds familiar for Laura Padulo, an educational assistant who works with autistic children at the Ottawa Catholic School Board.

Padulo earns $43,000. That’s less than half of what an experienced teacher earns.

As a single mother with three teenagers, her salary doesn’t stretch far, Padulo said. One of her sons, 18, has a job so he contributes to the household. The other is in university and her youngest child is in Grade 9. “I’m very, very careful about how I spend my money.

“My rent keeps going up.”

Padulo says her family has a “minimalist” lifestyle, with most of her salary going to food.

Wages for educational assistants at the Ottawa Catholic School Board range from $41,017 to $44,342 for a 10-month contract covering the school year, spokesperson Sharlene Hunter said.

Teachers start at $47,458 annually, with the top wage for a teacher with 11 years of experience hitting $102,967, she said.

(Educational assistants typically have a two or three-year college diploma, while a teaching certificate in Ontario requires a minimum of five years of post-secondary education.)

Hunter points out that school boards don’t set wages. The province funds schools boards and collective agreements are negotiated province-wide.

“We’d be pleased to see all (support) staff receive increases as long as the government funds that cost,” Hunter said.

Padulo said she’s enjoyed working with people with disabilities since she was a teenager and volunteered at camps for children with special needs.

She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and after a stint at home, went to college to do a one-year certificate in autism behavioural science.

Padulo said she loves her job working with autistic children in kindergarten and Grade 1. She helps them with everything from going to the bathroom to learning to follow directions, writing letters and helping them work with their emotions.

“It’s an amazing job.”

At the same time, it’s demanding, both physically and emotionally, Padulo said. She doesn’t think the salary reflects the importance of the work. “And the added stress and responsibility of caring for these little humans and making sure they stay safe.

“And you want to keep them happy and engaged.”

The children she works with are non-verbal and may run, hit or bite and throw things.

Padulo explains that the children are simply struggling to communicate. “I think the kids that we work with are meaningful to our society. We are educators.”

“I’m not expecting to be a millionaire,” she said. But her wage is “ridiculous.”

“To me, it’s just not valued because society doesn’t really see it as a big deal when you work with vulnerable people. We reward different things.”

In the loop with CUPE 2357 – 03-2022

By | CUPE Newsletter

Welcome Spring!

The best gift that you can give someone is a smile. Smile Rejuvenation Day is observed on March 20th of every year and on this amazing day, spreading smiles is the main agenda.Your smile works as a power to transform bad days into good ones for some people.

It has been a long winter, as we move into this season of rejuvenation, longer days and more light, let us all remember to be kind with others, as we do not know everyone’s story. Please take some time over the March Break, if you are off, to enjoy the small things in life.

If you are deciding to dip your toes back into travelling, please enjoy yourself and be safe.

In Solidarity,


Cynthia Steeves

President (Acting) – CUPE 2357

Upcoming Events

March Break- March 14-18

GMM March 29th, 6:30 – Virtual

Provincial Election – June 2nd


We are approaching a challenging round of contract negotiations in the fall. Cupe 2357 is preparing now. Want to join in? Become a MOBILIZER! Email to find out more.

Travel over March Break

If you are planning to travel over the March Break, please be aware of any self-isolation that may be required. As a school board employee, you are expected to be present for the first day back to work on Monday, March 21st. Any self-isolation that is required, must be completed prior to this date.

Collective Agreement Corner

8:02 Personal, family and Community Leave Personal, family and community leave for personal and family related reasons one (1) day of leave per annum. This leave shall not be used before or after a statutory holiday or to extend the Christmas, March Break or Easter vacation periods. Only in exceptional circumstances may this be approved by the Superintendent of Human Resources.

Employees not using their personal leave day during the current calendar year may carry over a maximum of one (1) extra day which may be used concurrently in the next calendar year.

All requests under this article must include the general nature of request and be submitted in writing to the appropriate Superintendent for approval at least two (2) weeks prior to the date of the request additional information. All leave requests beyond these parameters will be reviewed on a case by case basis.

Health & Safety

Please continue to fill out your accident and violence forms. These forms can be found under the Forms tab in the Staff Portal.

Leave Without Pay

Staffing for the 2022-2023 school year will soon commence. If you are a member who is currently on leave without pay, as a consideration, please inform the employer of your intentions, if known, for the upcoming school year.


Edvantage enrollments will continue to be processed on or around the 15th of each month. Please email to enroll.

Have a question or concern?

Email us at:

Your Cupe 2357 Executive Board

President: Cynthia Steeves

1st VP: Joanne Howell

Secretary Treasurer: Francine Meledoro

Interim Recording Secretary: Erin Grant

Ontario Morning from CBC Radio — Interview with Cynthia Steeves

By | In The News

They’ve been choked, head butted – even cut with scissors. A survey found that 70 per cent of early childhood education workers and educational assistants in Ontario were victims of violence on the job. We have reaction from Cynthia Steeves who is with the union that represents many of these workers; We meet Muskoka artist Trevor Shaw who is transforming propane tanks with images of wildlife.

Listen to the episode

In the loop with CUPE 2357
VOL. 5 | September 2021

By | CUPE Newsletter



Welcome Back!

The CUPE 2357 Executive Board, would like to take this opportunity to welcome back all of our members to a new school year.

A very special welcome to any new CUPE 2357 members, we are happy to have you aboard!

We wish you all a great school year and hope that this year has a few less bumps in the road, but as they say “A smooth sea, never made a skilled sailor.” You all possess great talent and skill in the capacity of your job within the OCSB, talent and skill that has weathered the storm of all storms, the last year and a half.

Go into this year with positivity, an open mind and optimism.

On behalf of the Executive,

Cynthia Steeves
President (Acting) — CUPE 2357 Meghan Mullan Recording Secretary

What’s Happening – CUPE 2357 Updates

The office was steady over the summer months with various Collective Agreement and Labour Relation issues. Our current collective agreement expires on August 31st,2022, so we are already getting ready on many levels for the next round of bargaining. We will be holding elections for the Bargaining Committee at our November30th GMM.

Important Dates

  • September 16th – GMM – Virtual
  • October 8th – PD Day
  • October 11th – Thanksgiving Day
  • November 12th – PD Day
  • November 30th – GMM

CUPE 2357 Executive Board 2021/2022

President (Acting) — Cynthia Steeves

1st VP — Cynthia Steeves

2nd VP — Joanne Howell

Recording Secretary — Meghan Mullan

Secretary Treasurer — Francine Meledoro

If you have any workplace issues or collective agreement questions, your first point of contact is the CUPE 2357 steward assigned to your school.

Please check your CUPE 2357 Board for the list or email

Easter Newsletter from CUPE 2357 – April 2021

By | CUPE Newsletter








Upcoming Events

GMM – May 26 – Format TBD

Become a Mobilizer

As we approach closer to contract negotiations, it is vital to have the united front of an engaged membership. We are looking for individuals ready to mobilize are members to become that united front. If you want to become a Mobilizer, please email:

President’s Message

The work you all collectively do is important and appreciated, even though some days it does not feel that way.

I want to personally express my deep gratitude for the dedicated work you do day after day. For all you do—and for the kind, thoughtful way you do it—thank you.

Wishing you all an Easter weekend full of sunshine and warm memories.


Cynthia Steeves

President – CUPE 2357

Extending a Holiday Weekend

According to our Collective Agreement, only vacation days can be taken to extend a holiday weekend.

Personal and Special Leave days are not eligible to be used in this situation.

EA & RECE Staffing

The staffing process has started for the EA and ECE classifications. Please watch your work email or the HR portal for important deadlines.

OSBCU Working Conditions Survey

The OSBCU Working Conditions Survey is closes on April 14th. To fill the survey out, copy and paste the following link: p/441644?lang=en

Worksite Communicator

We are updating our worksite communicator list. Worksite Communicators help filter down information to CUPE members at your work location.

Are interested in being a point of contact for the union at your work location?

If so, please email

In the loop with CUPE 2357
VOL. 2 | DECEMBER 2020

By | CUPE Newsletter






Dear Members,

We know this school year has been one of the most challenging and unpredictable years ever. You have all been working within a pandemic, making sure your students and coworkers are safe and supported. You have all been fantastic. The Board would not have made it through these uncertain times if it weren’t for you; you are the power of public education, for that we thank you. We want to take this time to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a safe and

happy New Year. Although we will all be doing Christmas a bit differently, we wish you all the safest and well-deserved Christmas break. During this holiday season, we hope you find time to refresh and relax.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Sherry Wallace President

Cynthia Steeves VP

Joanne Howell VP

Francine Meledoro Secretary-Treasurer

Meghan Mullan Recording Secretary

Violence in the Workplace

If you are experiencing violence in the workplace, please continue to fill out the Online Violence Report. If there are injuries incurred, please fill out an Accident Report as well.

Planning to travel over Christmas?

If you’re planning to travel over the Christmas Holidays, please be aware of the the self-isolation guidelines that are in effect. As a school board employee, you are expected to be present for the first day back to school on January 4, 2021. Any self-isolation that is required due to travelling, must be completed prior to this date.

Bylaw Proposals

Please see the attached bylaw proposals. We will vote on the proposed bylaws at the February General Membership Meeting. In the mean time, if you have any comments on the bylaw revisions, please email the executives;

Upcoming Events

GMM February 25, 2020

OSBCU (Virtual) Conference March 23-26, 2021

CUPE 2357 Wellness Corner

Low pay, uncertain hours, no sick leave. Education’s other workers face a return to the classroom

By | In The News

Francine Meledoro has been hit, kicked and bitten. Now she’s worried about invisible dangers.

Meldoro, an educational assistant at an east-end Catholic elementary school, works with children who have autism and behavioural challenges. It’s work she finds very satisfying, despite the dangers.

“I like to be able to see them reach their goals, whether it’s academic or learning to ride OC Transpo or read the flyers from grocery stores,” she said. “I love my little guys and seeing the smiles on their faces.”

But there are scars on the backs of her hand where she has been scratched. She often brings home visible reminders of the dangers of her job.

‘I’m worried about my own safety on a regular day. This is a whole other ball game,” she said of the return to school. “My kids are used to seeing marks on me. Now I may be bringing home something you can’t see.”

While the focus so far has been on teachers’ and parents’ concerns, there has been less attention on another part of the sector — the support workers whose pay grade is far below teachers.

The top salary for educational assistants is $43,000 a year after four years. Early childhood educators earn a top salary of $38,000, said Sherry Wallace, the president of CUPE 2357, which represents over 2,000 education workers ranging from library technicians to office administrators at the Ottawa Catholic School Board.

It’s not unusual for EAs and ECEs to have part-time jobs in group homes or day care, Wallace added. “Just for the additional income.”

Meldoro has worked as an educational assistant for about 13 years. Every year, she is laid off in June and re-hired in September — the same is true of the early childhood educators who work at the board — and she collects EI over the summer. This year she collected CERB.

Staying at home and waiting it out is not an option, she said.

“My husband can’t stay at home and I can’t stay at home. Financially, I need to go to work. My husband is a construction worker. He can’t take time off.”

Some education work is precarious work — temporary, poorly paid or insecure. Some students require medical support including diabetes testing, diaper-changing and toileting, and others with behavioural issues who spit, kick or throw desks when they’re in crisis, said Wallace. There are some students who don’t understand physical distancing and why it’s necessary to wear a mask.

In the pandemic world, the most precarious workers of all are those who are assigned to schools on a casual basis, she said. At her board, this is a pool of between 400 and 500 people.

“They could be going into multiple settings. And they don’t have sick leave.”

Meledoro’s life is a microcosm of the many fears and anxieties education workers have as they return to the classroom.

Many educational assistants have much more intimate contact with students than teachers do — they help students with eating and toileting, for example. Meledoro often guides a student by taking him or her by the hand. All of this will be difficult in the new world of physical distancing.

Meledoro has other concerns as well. Her mother, who cares for Meldoro’s six-year-old daughter before and after school, has a compromised immune system. Meledoro’s son, who is a year and half old, will be going to a home day care.

Meledoro has been careful to keep her social bubble small this summer. But, by her count, her family’s bubble will expand to about 90 people when her school, her daughter’s school, her son’s daycare and her husband’s work colleagues are all added together.

Occasional teachers are also weighing the dangers of returning to work.

“Part of me would really like to see human beings again. And another part of me thinks the classroom wouldn’t be the safest place,” said Susan Rab, who has been an occasional teacher off and on for 30 years.

Some occasional teachers are retired teachers who had a career and enjoy part-time work. Others are young graduates hoping occasional work will lead to a permanent job. While some occasional teachers get most of their work at one school or are on long-term contracts, one of the most serious concerns is about those who will be traveling to different schools, said Rab.

Job postings are made available to the approved occasional teacher pool through texts, emails and phone calls to qualified occasional teachers. If a teacher wants to accept a job, they click on it. Sometimes they don’t know where they will be going — or if they have a job — until morning.

“One of the difficulties for occasional teachers is that they have to make a conscious decision every day,” said Rab.

“This is precarious work,” David Wildman, who represents about 1,450 occasional teachers at the Ottawa unit of the Ontario Secondary Teachers’ Federation.

“You make a lot of money over the course of a week if you work. But you can’t spend it because you don’t know what will happen if you’re not working next week,” he said.

“If you have an HVAC system that doesn’t work properly and windows that don’t open and kids who come to school even if they are sick, then you’ll get sick. And what if you have to self-isolate for two weeks? Who’s going to pay for the groceries?”

Occasional teachers also face the same problems about physical distancing as regular teachers, said Wildman.

“You can’t comfort an upset child from the front of the classroom,” he said. “Behaviour will be more difficult to manage. It’s part of being a teacher, but with an added element of danger.”

Meledoro has been told she will be provided with PPE and three provincially-mandated training days before school starts when she will learn how to put on, take off, clean and discard PPE.

She considers herself lucky that the windows at her school open to allow fresh air inside. She has nothing but praise for how well her school board had kept her in the loop about new developments. She has confidence in her principal.

“Considering the circumstances, they have been doing their best,” she said.