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article imageTeachers' work to rule action reaches the Ontario economy Special

By Elizabeth Parker     Jan 3, 2013 in Business
There was much talk about Ontario Teachers strikes and work to rule actions coming up on the December 31, 2012 deadline before Bill 115 took affect and little mention of how the teachers' actions affect the Ontario seasonal and tourism economy.
There are many Ontario businesses that count on the funds generated by school trips of our elementary and secondary schools to get through the winter and tourism off seasons. The funds paid out to these tourism industry businesses that are typically slow in the winter and midweek add significant dollars to their bottom line and increase employment for seasonal workers that count on these areas to employ them through the winter months.
One of the industries particularly hard hit is the Ontario ski industry which has only these short winter months to make its yearly numbers. The province's mid week ski business will see a lot less of these youngsters learning to ski on our slopes this winter. The Ski Industry in Ontario will this week begin to feel the effects of the teachers not reaching a settlement.
The ski resorts have been reeling from the news since the summer and hoping a settlement came but put in contingency plans for "if" the settlement did not happen. That "if" has now arrived. There are many ski instructors that work through the winter teaching skiing to supplement their landscaping, construction or other seasonal businesses leaving them needing work in the winter that this year they won't find.
A young girl skiing at Horseshoe Valley Ski Hill  Ontario  Canada.
A young girl skiing at Horseshoe Valley Ski Hill, Ontario, Canada.
Lake Ridge Ski Resort in the Uxbridge, ON, area has decided it won't be worth opening for many midweek, daytime hours if there is no school business to count on as noted on their web site here.
Mount St. Louis Moonstone have cut back many positions to part time, rearranged full time Monday to Friday schedules to include weekends for their 5 days, and drastically lowered the full time ski instructors and rentals positions for the 2012/2013 season. With midweek school business making up 60% of their midweek clientele, according to Robert Huter, other ski hill positions in ticket taking, lift operations and cafeteria food service workers have all been affected as the daily cancellations were phoned in from the Ontario public sector schools. The bottom line effect on their business can be as much as 15 to 20% for the season if the teachers and government don't come to an acceptable agreement and the work to rule action continues for the full season.
Skyloft ski resort had similar sentiments to those reported by Mount St Louis Moonstone, in that it will affect their business bottom line by 20 to 25% for the season, they have hired only part time staff this season due to the uncertainty and most upsetting to them was the affect the work to rule action will have on the city children that often only get these trips once a year in their life time and will never have the opportunity to regain the experience to enjoy a lifetime sport through a school introduction to it. No one has yet taken the children in to account on the actions. Other Ontario ski resorts are all facing similar affects in varying degrees from the work to rule actions being taken.
Other Tourism reliant business such as the Royal Ontario Museum, Casa Loma, Pioneer Village, Toronto Zoo (and other zoos), Area Recreation Centers for swimming and skating are just a few of the potentially affected businesses that see revenue from midweek school trips each season and hire staff accordingly. The Royal Ontario Museum, claims 326,000 students were reached last year with 135,000 attending last year according to the ROM annual report posted here. Black Creek Pioneer Village runs daily school activities according to their web site. Civic Arenas in towns across Ontario have had random affects with some school hockey teams canceling ice time and skating days, or arenas that are taking a wait and see approach, unsure what will happen when school goes back in after holidays. Hopefully, for all concerned, the government and teacher's unions will continue to negotiate or possibly assign mediators, instead of imposing inflexible stances that only serve to hurt all concerned, as well as the seasonal unemployment rate, and especially the school children's experiences.
It appears as of today that the government is willing to consider repealing Bill 115 as reported in the Toronto Star here, but the details of how this will affect actions are very sketchy and though they are discussing repealing the bill they are still imposing contracts based on the bill prior to any repeal going through. Only time will tell.
More about Billl 115, Teachers, Ontario, Economy, ski industry
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