Ontario elementary school teachers to continue strike action next week

Feb 5 2020, 7:33 am

Elementary school teachers across Ontario represented by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario are poised to continue strike action next week.

As of Wednesday, the ETFO has sent five-day notices to school boards and authorities across the province.

The news follows last week’s resumed negotiations between the Ford government and Ontario teachers, which broke down on January 31.

“ETFO’s 83,000 public elementary school educators will be on the picket lines again next week in the hope that the Ford government and Education Minister Lecce will return to talks prepared to support public education,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond in a release.

“The minister and his team must come to the table with a mandate to reach a deal that benefits students, student learning, and educators.”

Starting February 10, the ETFO’s rotating strikes will occur as follows:

February 10: One-day strikes in Avon Maitland, Durham, Durham Catholic (designated early childhood educators only), Halton, Hastings-Prince Edward, Lambton Kent, Rainbow, Thames Valley, Upper Canada and Upper Grand school boards and Campbell Children’s School Authority.

February 11: One-day strike of all 83,000 ETFO members.

February 12: One-day strikes in Algoma, Greater Essex, Limestone, Niagara, Renfrew County, Toronto, Toronto Catholic (designated early childhood educators only) and Waterloo school boards, Moosonee and Moose Factory District School Authorities and Bloorview, John McGivney Children’s Centre, KidsAbility and Niagara Peninsula Children’s Centre School Authorities.

February 13: One-day strikes in Bluewater, Grand Erie, Hamilton-Wentworth, Keewatin-Patricia, Lakehead, Ontario North East, Ottawa-Carleton, Peel, Penetanguishene, Protestant Separate, Simcoe County, Superior-Greenstone, Trillium Lakelands and York Region School Boards, and Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre.

February 14: One-day strikes in Kawartha Pine Ridge, Near North and Rainy River School Boards.

“From ETFO’s perspective, fair contract talks must include: appropriate funding for Special Education; a strategy to address classroom violence; maintaining our internationally recognized Kindergarten program; and fair hiring practices,” Hammond said.

Since November 2019, ETFO members have been engaged in legal job action with regards to negotiations with the Government of Ontario and the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA).

Meanwhile, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced in January that the government of Ontario will offer parents a payout of $25 to $60 if strike action closes schools or school-based child care centres.

He has previously stated that the continued strike action is unfair to students, and said the provincial government has continued to attempt to reach a deal with the teachers’ union.

Reportedly, the government offered to reduce classroom sizes from 28 to 25 and online learning courses from four to two.

“Parents have been clear: Strikes by unions hurt kids and investments should go to support student success, not towards enhanced compensation,” Lecce said in a previous statement.

“We agree with Ontario parents. This is why we will continue to vigorously champion the interests of students and seek stability for parents in 2020, who are frustrated and tired of the union-led escalation that began in 2019.

“This continued strike action is unfair to students and their families.”