Over 200,000 teachers on strike today against Ford government cuts

Feb 21 2020, 6:40 am

Ontario’s four major teacher unions will be on strike across the province on Friday, resulting in over 200,000 education workers protesting the Ford government’s cuts to education.

The thousands of teachers and education workers will strike in 72 school boards, affecting almost 5,000 schools across the province.

In Toronto, teachers will be gathering in Queen’s Park with the four unions represented which are: Members of the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO), the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA), and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF/FEESO).

The union members will be gathered outside of the legislature.

“Educators in every school board will not stay silent as the Ford government proceeds to decimate our publicly funded education system,” Sam Hammond, ETFO President said in a statement last week. “Our unions and members helped build Ontario’s world-class education system. By not seriously addressing the issues critical to students and student learning, the Ford government has made a sham of contract talks over the last seven months.”

The strike has been ongoing now for over a month, the primary concerns for teachers being increased classroom size, expansion to online learning, funding cuts to special education, hiring teachers with seniority, and improved salary compensation.

So far, no resolution has been reached on either side.

“Your child should be in class; they should not be the casualty of union-led escalation,” Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education said in a statement ahead of Friday’s strike. “The focus of union leaders ought to be on negotiating a deal that keeps students in class. Our government will remain squarely focused on providing stability to students who face escalation by teacher unions far too often throughout their educational journey.”

According to Lecce, parents are losing patience with the “union-caused disruption in their lives, the inconsistency in their children’s education, and the financial impact of scrambling for alternate care.”

The Ford government during this time has created the Support for Parents initiative which provides some financial support for families affected by the strike. For working parents with children age zero to six, they receive $60 a day and children from Grades 1 to 7 receive $25 in compensation.

“While union leaders are continuing to organize further disruption, our government remains focused on getting deals that ensure students are learning each and every day,” Lecce said.