Discussing Climate Refugees at AMPA 2016

by Andrea Loken, OSSTF Limestone

Canadians are proud that our new government has welcomed Syrian refugees.

Many millions more refugees will be created by climate change. Some say hundreds of millions by 2050.

Climate change will bring mass migration because of extreme drought, sea level rise, and extreme weather events, like super-typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. As well, decreased water and food security is anticipated to create more war and conflict.

The most vulnerable in society are the ones who are affected the most by climate disaster. We are already seeing the disproportionate harm being done to people who are poor, people of colour, indigenous people, women and children. Africa has been experiencing climate racism for a long time.

At the same time, rich Nations like Canada continue to exploit dirty energy sources that cause the problem. The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan recently invested 3.3 billion in the Tar Sands. This is an example of colonialism at its worst. The Beaver Lake Cree are having to sue Alberta and the Canadian Government for over 19,000 projects that are destroying their land and their way of life.

As we continue to invest in and burn fossil fuels, we create the climate disaster and people’s homes are destroyed. Even if we stop burning fossil fuels today, the amount of damage done amounts to a massive refugee problem – some say the biggest problem humanity will ever face.

To deal with climate refugees, the communities where people must move must be educated about the issues. Unions and Educators will have to be part of the solution.

ETFO has already recognized this need and has developed a workshop to assist its members in helping the families that will arrive in their communities and classrooms. OSSTF could certainly rise to this challenge and be part of this vital climate solution. Please pass the motion below at AMPA 2016 to form a workgroup to address our role in this important issue.

MAC 226-16

Cost Estimate: $10,000

BE IT RESOLVED THAT AMPA establish a work group that will investigate ways to support the education and community needs of refugees in Ontario.

The work group will be composed of the following: a) three bargaining unit presidents/leaders, with an interest in human rights, as selected by the Provincial Executive from applications; b) one Provincial CPAC member; c) one Provincial Executive member, assigned by the President; d) the Secretariat Liaisons assigned to CPAC.

The Work Group will report to Provincial Council, as appropriate, and submit an interim report with recommendations to AMPA 2017 and a final report with recommendations to AMPA 2018.



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