Constructing for a better tomorrow
As I write this editorial, I am looking out of the windows of the Ontario meeting room in OSSTF/FEESO’s temporary Provincial Office at 49 Mobile Drive. I am watching workers both inside and outside our new building at 60 Mobile Drive as they work through the early spring winds and rains, a well-coordinated dance of workers, machines, building materials, and well… mud. This balance of human, machine, and materials has me thinking of the nuances in all relationships, of the need to work with others to achieve a goal, and of the value of teamwork in rebuilding for better.
A lot of what you will read in this issue explores how we can be better—how we can be better with our workplaces, our relationships, our advocacy, and our support of others. As you read through this spring issue of Education Forum, I hope that you can find something that helps you see your next steps and to envision how you can do better.
Our cover story, “Equity through a workplace health and safety lens” by Chris Clarke (D14), invites us to use workplace health and safety parameters to further our commitment to creating more equitable and inclusive environments. He posits using the Ontario Health and Safety Act (OSHA) and workplace Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSCs) to situate equity work in a framework that prioritizes equity as a mandatory element of creating workplace health and safety.
“Transformational, active changes” by Provincial Office staff member Troy Cluff, reminds the reader that “spending time struggling over complex projects with intersecting and sometimes difficult issues is essential to our collective process of learning, of establishing a cycle of critical reflexiveness, and of progressing” when we seek to make institutional change. This article, an adaptation of a presentation given to OSSTF/FEESO local Presidents at our Presidents’ Symposium last year, takes a high-level look at how we make progress in creating more inclusive workplaces. The key to transformation is to be willing to take the risk.
Similarly, the article by Carol Phillips and Phil Silverstein from Moriyama Teshima Architects, the firm behind our new building at 60 Mobile Drive, describes taking on new building practices using old thinking. The building’s design is inclusive-thinking while at the same time incorporating some of the most modern building approaches; this includes using timber and other natural materials, reimagined in the building industry for use because of their sustainability. Phillips notes, “This design represents a commitment to a future where we see ourselves as part of nature, not separate from it, and celebrates a sense of community and common values while designing for the diverse needs in contemporary workplaces for a mix of private, quiet, collaborative, social and communal spaces.” The building, scheduled to be completed in early 2024, provides us with a reminder of what is possible when we think differently and open ourselves not only to new ideas but also to reimagining past practices in a newer light.
OSSTF/FEESO Member, Veronica Montague (D12), shares her research on supporting youth who “age out” of provincial care programs. She reviews the ways that supports for youth fail to continue once many turn eighteen years of age. This funding disparity particularly impacts Sovereign, and equity-seeking/demanding communities. Her research concludes with an understanding that “there is much work to do for youth to ensure that this vulnerable group of individuals can overcome the difficulties set out before them and increase their resiliency. Ensuring that youth continue to participate in the services and programs available may be vital in their successful transition to adulthood by equipping youth with the necessary tools and knowledge.” When youth in care are supported through their transitions into adulthood, they have the greatest chance for positive outcomes.
In the coming months, I will continue to use the new OSSTF/FEESO Provincial Office building’s progress as a source of my own inspiration to consider the positive changes I can make. I hope you all find something in this issue that inspires you a bit, that gives you pause for thought about what you might like to do to take your next steps in your own change.
Tracey Germa, Editor