It has been almost as daunting as it’s been exciting to assume the role of editor at Education Forum, a magazine that reaches tens of thousands of OSSTF/FEESO members, and finds its way to the desks of school board administrators, Ministry staff, and members of Ontario’s legislature.
I am enormously grateful to Randy Banderob, who was in charge of this publication for the past three years, and whose advice and guidance has been indispensable as I’ve transitioned into the role. I also want to thank Wendy Anes Hirschegger, who was Education Forum’s editor for six years prior to Randy’s tenure, and who generously provided valuable perspectives and encouragement prior to her retirement last year.
Over the past few months I have also come to understand how much effort goes into to the production of this magazine, and how many “moving parts” there are in the process. In that time I’ve gained a new appreciation for the work of Ronda Allan, our Publications Manager/Editorial Assistant, Audrey Bourque and Kristina Ferorelli of our graphic arts team and Diane Saint-Pierre and Catherine Poëzévara, who take care of translation. I may be at the helm now, but it takes an entire crew to keep this boat moving forward.
I also feel compelled to point out that Randy Banderob’s editorial instincts are very much at play in this current issue of Education Forum. Before his departure from the role of editor, Randy had begun to lay the conceptual groundwork for an issue focused broadly on the theme of precarity. It was an idea that resonated with me and with the magazine’s editorial board, and the result is this issue of Education Forum, which explores a number of ways in which various kinds of precarity affect OSSTF/FEESO members, our students, and the social context in which we work.
Why precarity? For a number of years now, precarity—particularly precarious employment—has been emerging as a defining feature of the Canadian economy. The vast majority of jobs that have been created since the devastating economic downturn of 2008 have been part-time, service industry jobs or short-term contract opportunities. Representatives of business and government officials like to refer to these jobs as non-standard employment, but precarious work is a much more accurate descriptor. We live in a world where ever greater numbers of people have no stability and no security in their working lives, a world where families rely on bread-winners who have to work two or three low-paying part-time jobs just to pay the rent and keep food on the table. And, of course, when precarious employment affects so many people, other forms of precarity inevitably follow—food insecurity, precarious housing, physical and mental health issues, and much more.
The emergence of precarity as a new social and economic order is the kind of phenomenon that demands and deserves the attention of OSSTF/FEESO members. As educators, we need to be aware of this significant shift in the world of work that the students we work with will someday be navigating. And as union members, we need to support the efforts of the broader labour movement in the battle against precarity, not just through strong collective agreements, but also through efforts—such as the Make it Fair campaign—to convince governments to strengthen labour laws and employment standards.
I hope you enjoy this issue of Education Forum.