Strike the strike
To the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and Nova Scotia government,
With a strike vote happening likely, I hope there will be a positive solution to the current standoff between the teachers' union and the province. As a parent, top of mind is the welfare of my child in the school system, when I trust others whom I hope have their minds on the job, and whom I expect to have the best interests of my child in mind.
I have sympathy for the teachers—many of them work hard and resources are always a struggle. In our catchment, for example, there was a boundary review recently that led to the school population growing from about 400 students one year to 600 students the next, and there was not a corresponding increase in teaching and support staff to help cope.
But I also sympathize with the province and the fact there is very limited cash on hand to fund an inflated contract deal, even though the government's own very bad decisions play no small role in the current financial mire. They can't on one hand insist there is no money to fund public-sector salary raises, while they write cheques to doomed niche ventures ($25 million on the Bluenose and around $60 million on the Yarmouth ferry!) with the other hand. At least there is a return on money given to the education system.
A quick search on the HRSB website will reveal the teachers' salaries list. Most are paid from $70,000 to $100,000 per year. There are not many jobs where you can get paid that much money and get two months off over summer, two weeks at Christmas, a break in the spring and defined-benefit pensions. The moment the teachers realize they have already got a very fair deal and don't need to turn the thumbscrews tighter, this issue goes away.
If teachers really are concerned about having the tools necessary to do their jobs and not their salaries and benefits, why would they reject a deal which would free up cash to fund the very resources they are claiming they want? It seems the teachers have the key to their own treasure chest to fix the problems in the classroom, and it's more a question of whether they will acknowledge so and be reasonable. I hope for everyone's sake they do. —LF, Bedford
I want to thank Gerhard Soyka for his concern for the safety of the Jewish people ("Halifax Pride remains inclusive," Voice of the City, October 13). Being Jewish myself (and queer), I am also concerned with the safety and continuity of my people. And there is reason for worry. Along with my family and friends living in Israel, I watch the country of my birth degrade every day to new lows of anti-democratic behaviour and human rights violations—indeed much like Soyka's country, Germany, between the wars. Then, too, queers resisted the climate of escalation and hatred, flamed on by politicians, in an effort to prevent the horrors that were to follow.
As a queer person and as a Jew, I stand with the marginalized in my community in honouring my ancestors and the homes that were lost in the Holocaust. I remember my commitment to do anything in my power to prevent another Holocaust, whether Jews are those being targeted or others. I see the similarities between my people's plight and the Palestinians', in need of a safe and free homeland. I stand with my Arab brothers, sisters and queer siblings in Halifax. Young Jews have spoken—please stop speaking for us. —Jacob Zeller, Halifax
End polio forever
World Polio Day is coming up on Monday, October 24, I'm put in mind these words from Jonas Edward Salk: "There is hope in dreams, imagination and in the courage of those who wish to make those dreams a reality." Imagine when there are no new cases of polio what a fantastic joy will be celebrated around the world! That day will come soon if donor countries will give more to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
Hopefully the end of polio is just the start of eliminating other horrific diseases. But if we leave polio unchecked, it will come back! Disease is only a plane ride away from our shores.
Now is time pay the piper, otherwise we will have to pay the whole brass band. Canada should show the world that we are committed to global health. —Peter Bateman, Halifax