Across Canada right now, educational institutions are in turmoil. In the wast, BC’s teachers are now on strike. Throughout Quebec, there’s been student strikes at universities across the province. On the east coast, Dalhousie faculty and staff are threatening to strike after this weekend. These conflicts rise out of sweeping eduction cuts now being witnessed across the country, another example of our nation’s new commitment to “austerity”

British Columbia
Public teachers in BC return to work today after striking since Monday and may walk out for another day days next week. The provincial government has maintained it’s position of net-zero increases in pay and benefits and refused to make any concessions. Teachers are now under threat of back-to-work legislation which would eliminate seniority systems, remove class size caps and place broad, sweeping limits on their ability to strike or protest for a “cooling off” period extending for the rest of the year. A rally was held yesterday in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery and on Tuesday in front of Victoria’s legislature. Job actions such as work-to-rule are planned to continue as long as possible.

Quebec
After attempting to substantially raise tuition fees, student strikes broke out across the province with rumours of over 120 000 high school and post-secondary students now participating. Yesterday tensions erupted as protesters rallied around a number of government buildings and attempted to enter the Loto-Quebec headquarters (which included University administration offices) and were attacked by riot police with batons, tear gas and pepper spray. This isn’t the first time police have been called in to remove marchers from blocking the Jaques Cartier Bridge late last month, also with pepper spray.

Halifax
Over eight hundred professors at Dalhousie University are set to strike Monday, very possibly followed by support workers soon after. This comes in a city awash with such actions at the moment, as health-care and transit workers are also striking.

Ontario
Locally, Premier McGuinty is now demanding a wage-freeze from teachers, backed by threats of implementing cuts suggested in a recent report by economist Don Drummond, such as eliminating all-day kindergarten and class-size caps. Unions have requested a meeting with the premier, but been rejected.

On the national scale, word is that Harper plans to unveil the new “austerity budget” at the end of this month. Air Canada workers are threatening to go on strike next week, with Harper already talking back-to-work legislation, much like with Canada Post. With austerity likely to strike at provincial levels as well, given troubling signs like the Drummond Report in Ontario, all signs point to a brutal year ahead for Canadian workers.

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