April 24, 2012
recommend that MPP Rod Jackson learn what it really means to work in an
Autism Spectrum Disorder classroom by paying a visit.
Contrary to the false
accusations made in the Legislature on April 19 by Rookie Conservative
MPP Jackson, Educational Assistants rarely restrain students. Soft foam
blockers are used as protection to prevent workplace injuries for both
the workers and the students they support.
OPSEU President Warren
(Smokey) Thomas spoke out adamantly in defense of Simcoe’s Educational
Assistants. “OPSEU condemns the attack on Educational Assistants made by
MPP Jackson. These workers deserve a safe workplace where they are
protected from harm at all times. It is unacceptable that these
dedicated workers are vilified in the Legislature for protecting
themselves from harm at work.”
OPSEU Local President,
Silvanna Petersen, is an Educational Assistant (EA) in Simcoe County.
She has personally suffered numerous attacks in her workplace: “Like
many EAs, I have been bitten, spat on, scratched, hit, kicked and had my
hair pulled many times. No one should have to go to work every day with
the risk of being injured,” said Petersen. “I am astounded that an
elected official would make such uninformed claims. This is a complex
issue. Educational Assistants feel belittled and demeaned by the
distorted claims that have been made recently by MPP Rod Jackson and
“I suspect that Mr. Jackson
has never stepped foot in an Autism Spectrum Disorder class where
Education Support Workers have to wear personal protective equipment
such as spit guards, kevlar gloves, body armour and occasionally have to
carry protective shields to ensure their safety and the safety of the
students they support. I recommend that Mr. Jackson visit a classroom to
see what the work really entails.”
EAs and Child and Youth
Workers (CYW) are known to suffer concussions, disfiguring bites,
punches, slaps and psychosocial hazards at work on a regular basis.
"EAs and CYWs continue to go
to work because we are caring professionals who advocate for the
students we support and provide excellent individualized quality public
education,” said Petersen.
Educational Assistants are
often women, and their wages are low. They are paid approximately 30
thousand dollars a year.
Silvanna Petersen, Educational Assistant, OPSEU Local 330 President:
Anastasios Zafiriadis, OPSEU Staff Representative: 416-524-1278