Teacher Sevtap Dal carries signs prior to a rally at Queen’s Park in Toronto in late August. Teachers may protest that they work much longer hours than what is required by their collective agreements. That is undoubtedly true for many. But employees in other vocations similarly take work home. And, in terms of the necessity to perform additional work, preparation time is already negotiated into teachers’ collective agreements as part of their required minimum work day.
- Which group of 70,000 Ontario civil servants is paid slightly more than $78 per hour?
- To put it in perspective, the average Canadian aerospace engineer earns about half of this, at $40 per hour; veterinarians $38; civil engineers $37; HR specialists $28; Web designers and developers $25; and journalists, I am afraid to say, just $24, less than one-third of this group.
- My figure is based upon information provided by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario as to the required minimum days worked per year, hours per day and average annual remuneration. Elementary teachers make up more than 70,000 of the 114,000 teachers. The rest are secondary school teachers, whose average hourly wage for the time they are required to work, based on more limited information from the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, is the still surprisingly high sum of $68.73.
Now, what profession might the author have?
- You may think it a brazen display of chutzpah for a lawyer to be talking about anyone else’s excessive hourly wages. But let’s look at my profession. A mid-level downtown Toronto lawyer may charge $450 per hour but, as a rule of thumb, has to work close to two hours for every hour docketed. That’s why Bay Street firms may expect their juniors to work 70 hour weeks but have weekly docketing goals of only 35 hours. (Most employers in my profession who tout work-life balance in their recruitment are being disingenuous.)
- That knocks the $450 rate down to an effective $225, but out of that $225 lawyers must pay for receptionists, law clerks, legal secretaries, office space, expensive equipment, etc. They are required by the Law Society to take courses each year to upgrade their skills. Unlike teachers, they do so on their own unpaid time. They also have to find additional time to secure and retain clients and incur entrepreneurial risk, particularly in difficult times. Many Ontario lawyers take home less than $50,000 per year. They also have no pension.
Comparing the lowest income of a profession with a rather wide variance in that measure to that of teachers strikes me as intellectually dishonest. Most people will also agree that teachers provide a service far more valuable to society than lawyers, who, by the way, are disproportionately represented in the North American governments (over 50%). This last fact may also be the reason why so many of our laws and rules seem litigation-friendly, in the detriment of quick dispute resolution.