There aren’t many stories more compelling than dedicated public-sector workers under attack from governments bent on cutting services and staff. We’ve been helping unions tell—and change—that story in provinces across the country. And this week, four of those stories were honoured by being named as finalists for the Reed Awards, where Campaigns & Elections salutes the best of political communications from the past year.
The finalists include:
For Ontario teachers, recovery from the Mike Harris era was a slow, painstaking process marked by setbacks and political attacks from the governing Liberals. But even by those standards, PC Leader Tim Hudak‘s agenda of cutting teachers and other school workers was extreme. This piece went into 1.7 million households in swing ridings, exposing the threat posed by Hudak’s plan.
Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario: Web video
This video let us expand on the teachers’ story, explaining how larger class sizes meant less individual attention for students, and making the case for smaller classes. We posted it to YouTube as well as embedding it on the ETFO election website, BuildingBetterSchools.ca.
Teachers weren’t the only ones targeted by Tim Hudak’s plan. Nurses—already under strain from ongoing shortages—faced the prospect of even heavier workloads, layoffs and wage and pension cuts. This postcard, delivered to 1.4 million households in swing ridings, helped convince voters that Hudak’s plan would erode patient care and put their families’ health at risk.
For years, Premier Christy Clark and the BC Liberals repeatedly provoked the BCTF, hoping to trigger a conflict that would swing public sentiment away from teachers. Last year, still riding high on an election victory, the Liberals demanded a 10-year collective agreement locking in the cutbacks and overcrowded classrooms of the past decade. This website, at AFairDeal.ca, helped teachers take the government on, making the most of third-party validation that established both the Liberals’ bad faith and the province’s dismal performance in funding education.
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What really matters, of course, is whether these stories make a difference. And the good news is that they all did.
In Ontario, teachers and nurses helped to defeat Conservatives in all of their targetted ridings. Tim Hudak suffered a huge, leadership-ending defeat as voters rejected not just him, but the conservative public-service-cutting values he campaigned on. And parents throughout BC stood with teachers to a degree that confounded pundits and right-wing strategists alike. The province and the BCTF reached a contract that addresses class size and composition, leaves the teachers’ court victories restoring class-size contract provisions intact, and has a term of just six years, not ten.
We’ll learn who won the Reed Awards on January 23. But as happy as we’d be to see our clients carry home some lovely trophies, we’re satisfied to have helped them tell compelling stories that made a big difference for their members—and the public they serve.