Teachers’ Strikes in Toronto and Across Ontario

Romas Zabas | posted Monday, Jan 20th, 2020

It’s going to be a tumultuous week for students, parents, teachers and the provincial government because of the ongoing labour dispute with Ontario teachers’ unions. Today the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario is holding a one-day strike at three boards: Toronto District School Board, York Region District School Board, and Ottawa-Carleton District School Board. The major issues for ETFO are more supports for students with special needs, addressing violence in schools, preserving full-day kindergarten and compensation.

ETFO will also hold a second one-day strike Tuesday at four school boards and it will not be the only teachers’ union on strike that day. The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation is holding its sixth one-day escalating strike and the Toronto District School Board is among the thirteen boards that will be targeted.  The OSSTF says their key issues are class sizes, e-learning and compensation.   The union says this will be their last strike action during the exam period but they have not ruled out a full strike in the future to press the Ford government.  The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association will also be on strike Tuesday at all of its elementary and secondary schools across the province.

The only one of the four teachers’ unions in the province that will not be on strike on Tuesday represents French teachers. The Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO) began an administrative work-to-rule campaign last Thursday but have not announced any walkouts that would close schools. AEFO is also the only union that has contract talks scheduled with the government.

ETFO will also hold rotating one-day strikes on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at various school boards across the province to put more pressure on the government.

The Progressive Conservative government continues to ask the unions to return to the bargaining table. Last Thursday Premier Doug Ford said the protracted labour dispute is primarily about wages and the province would not go beyond the 1% wage increase that has been legislated for the public sector in Bill 124.  All four unions have launched a charter challenge to that bill arguing that it violates their right to free collective bargaining.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce also announced last week compensation for parents:  Families with children attending a child care centre at a closed school are eligible for $60 compensation, for children in kindergarten $40,  children in grades 1-7 $25, and children with special needs in kindergarten to grade 12 $40. The government estimates the program would cost as much as $48 million dollars a day if there was a full labour disruption.

The teachers’ unions have been without contracts since August 31.




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