98% of Ontario elementary school educators vote in favour of strike action

Nov 1 2019, 9:37 am

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), including 83,000 teachers and education workers, have voted 98% in favour of taking strike action, if needed, in response to cuts made under Premier Ford’s government.

The mandate comes after the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) revealed data showing that this year, there will be almost 1,000 fewer teachers in grades 4 to 8 elementary classrooms, and larger class sizes compared to last year.

“Talks have stalled at ETFO’s central bargaining tables. This is a wakeup call from our members to this government to get serious about key issues affecting educators and students including more supports for Special Education, class size and class structure, fair and transparent hiring practices, and preservation of the current Kindergarten program,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond.

Hammond also said that a conciliator, appointed by the Minister of Labour, will meet with ETFO and the other parties at the central bargaining tables on November 4.

“The overwhelming mandate our members have given to ETFO clearly shows they want the Ford government to bargain in good faith and arrive at a deal that is fair and reasonable for our members and that actually supports the students in our schools.”

Hammond said that the government is demanding an additional $150 million in cuts from elementary education.

In response to the vote’s numbers, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce released a statement advocating for a deal, as opposed to a strike.

“While our government has been a reasonable and constructive force at the bargaining table — focused on keeping kids in class — today, ETFO has taken another escalating step towards a strike which will disproportionately hurt our kids. Strike action caused by unions could mean school closures, disruption, and uncertainty for students and parents,” he said.

“I support a deal, not a strike. Our team remains unequivocal in our determination to land deals with our labour partners as soon as possible to keep our kids in the classroom.”

The CCPA study tracks the impact of increasing class sizes, and the resulting loss of teachers in grades 4 to 12, on a school board basis. The tracking data can be viewed here.