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The union representing the region’s secondary school educators is endorsing a slate of NDP candidates ahead of June’s provincial election, union leaders announced Tuesday.

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The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) is endorsing Lisa Gretzky, MPP for Windsor West, as well as NDP candidates Gemma Grey-Hall in Windsor Tecumseh, Ron LeClair in Essex and Brock McGregor in Chatham-Kent-Leamington ahead of the June 2 provincial election.

“Over the past several months, we have met with candidates from different political parties across the province to discuss our educational platform and the vision for the future of public education in Ontario,” said Karen Littlewood, OSSTF president.

“We need more leaders like Gemma, Ron, Lisa and Brock at Queen’s Park – people who will stand up for our students and our communities to fight and make sure they protect what matters most.”

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Union leaders spoke of Gretzky’s past as a school board trustee prior to becoming an MPP and LeClair’s role as a current trustee, as well as Grey-Hall’s work with the school board over the last year, and McGregor’s community involvement as a Chatham-Kent councilor . They also pointed out the party’s commitment to public education and strengthening public services, as factors in the slate of endorsements.

“When we’re talking about teachers and education workers, their working conditions are our children’s learning conditions,” Gretzky said. “We have never seen that more clearly than in the last two plus years of this pandemic.

“I am so incredibly honored to have all of these fine folks standing behind me today and going forward in supporting me and my NDP colleagues.”

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OSSTF officials noted an education platform based on five priorities: increasing student supports and services; investing in schools and local communities including mental health and newcomer support; centering families and schools through affordable childcare and permanent paid sick days; improving learning conditions through in-person learning and smaller class sizes; addressing systemic inequities with a focus on Indigenous communities and confronting anti-Black racism; and creating healthier schools through addressing the school repair backlog and addressing violence in schools.

Erin Roy, president of OSSTF’s District 9 for Windsor and region, said local union leadership was happy to make Tuesday’s endorsements heading into what she said was an important election this summer.

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“It’s been a really rough few years with this conservative government and not just because of the pandemic,” Roy said. “This is really important election for us, especially as we move into the next few years, hopefully recovering from the pandemic.”

“The NDP have committed to putting (investments) directly into classrooms, lowering class sizes, ensuring equity issues are taken care of, and that will really help with the frontline and students will notice it.”

OSSTF’s more than 60,000 members across the province include high school teachers, educational assistants, secretaries and social workers among others.

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