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Public Opinion on School Board Trustees in the Early 1990s

By: Jennifer Peers

The school board trustee is a locally elected member of the public and advocate for education. While people vaguely know what a school board trustee is, most may not realize the amount of influence that these individuals have in decisions related to schools. Some of the responsibilities of a school board trustee include assisting in the development of the school’s strategic plans, holding the school accountable to its strategic plans, helping to determine the allocation of resources and creating goals for student’s wellbeing and academic achievement.

We collected nine Canadian survey questions from 1993 to 1997 on the topic of school board trustees. The survey questions and corresponding data have been shared on Open ICPSR for those interested in the data. One of the conclusions that can be made based on the collected data, is that the issue of whether to have school board trustees is divisive. For instance, respondents were asked if they think schools should continue to be governed by school board trustees or whether they should be governed by a volunteer or unpaid council of parents and community members who are elected by an annual meeting of local residents? The results of this survey for 1993 and 1995 show that respondents were closely split on this issue

Question: In most places in Canada, schools are governed by school board trustees who are elected by local voters in regularly scheduled elections. Do you think that schools should continue to be governed this way or would you prefer schools to be governed by a volunteer, unpaid council of parents and community members, who are elected in much the same way as ratepayer executives, that is, by those who attend an annual meeting of local residents?
Answer Options:  1993 n=2001  1995 n=2037
Continue to be governed by elected school trustees47%45%
Governed by volunteer, unpaid council of parents and community members42%45%
Don’t know/Not applicable11%10%

The consistent split between the two years is evidence that there is a number of people who want to continue to have the school board trustee position and a relatively similar number of people who would prefer for schools to have an elected volunteer council made up of parents and community members. The findings from this survey also correlate with a survey question asking the respondents if they feel their school board trustee does a good job or poor job of representing their interests on education issues. The results of this survey were not as equally split but reflect a division amongst people on the issue of school board trustees with 58.9% of respondents saying they do a good job and 41.1% saying they do a poor job.

Like the public servant, the school board trustee is growing increasingly subject to scrutiny, as the public has begun to demand more accountability and transparency. A simple scan of the recent news is evidence of that fact, with multiple school board trustees resigning or being removed from their position for issues such as racial discrimination. As these conversations continue to be had, it will be interesting to see if the issue of whether to have school board trustees continues to be divisive.

Ethical Investors in Canada

By Jennifer Peers

Ethical investing has been around for over a century, dating back to 18th century Quakers (Rayer, 2017). However, the demand for stocks that reflect the values of investors has become more prominent with issues such as global warming becoming more exacerbated over time. Accompanying the growing demand for ethical investments are a whole slew of new terms for it, including; socially responsible investing, impact investing, environment, social and governance investing, sustainable investing and green investing among others.

We collected survey questions from 1994 to 2019 to see how Canadian’s feel about ethical investing. We identified fifty survey questions related to ethical investing. The survey questions and corresponding data have been shared on OpenICPSR for those interested in the data.

Several interesting observations emerged from the data collected. In particular, a data set from 2007 to 2011 appears to show a decline amongst Canadians over the years, in volunteering, donating, and ethical investing 

One reason for this decline could be the 2008 recession which financially devastated the global economy and many consumers along with it. During times of financial hardship, charitable giving typically declines. As one Stanford University article put it, “in 2009 the economic downturn of 2008 has given rise to one of the largest year-over-year declines in charitable giving since the late 1960s” (Reich & Wimer, 2012).

The collected data for these years also demonstrates that behaviors such as donating to charitable causes, boycotting a company on ethical grounds, and buying a product or service because of an established link to a charitable organization are more prevalent in Canada than ethical investing. This suggests that this practice is still relatively unfamiliar to Canadian consumers despite it being around for some time. Correspondingly, one survey found between 2017-2019 that most Canadians have heard about responsible investing but know little or nothing about it.

Question: To what extent are you knowledgeable about responsible investments that consider ESG factors?

Year I have heard about responsible investing but know little or nothing about it
2017 54%
2018 46%
2019 49%

While knowledge on ethical investing may be limited for many Canadians, their desire for more ethical investing opportunities is clear from the data. A recent Ipsos poll found that 63% of Canadian investors are interested in starting or building their portfolio of ethical investments. This increasing demand for investments that align with investors values will require more resources and supports from Canada’s banks and investment companies.

Mandatory masks should be the default option for Ontarians

The following article By Anthony Piscitelli and Jason Thistlethwaite was published in the Globe and Mail:

Ontarians are looking for direction on how to act during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s daily press briefings have had hundreds of thousands of views, and updates from Premier Doug Ford have been eagerly awaited by Ontarians looking for provincial direction on how to address the coronavirus.

While the guidance has been useful, when it comes to mask policies our Ontario government has unfortunately left the decision-making entirely up to local municipalities. Many local governments have stepped up to fill this policy void, but with clear evidence of the effectiveness of masks in reducing COVID-19 already available, more concrete leadership should have come from the province.

Continue reading at https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-mandatory-masks-should-be-the-default-option-for-ontarians/