83,000 educators to strike again next week

File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / oksun70

With contract talks stalled and no deal in sight, educators at Ontario’s public elementary schools will return to the picket lines next week for five more days of rotating strikes.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) announced Tuesday that teachers, occasional teachers and other education professionals at each school board will conduct rotating one-day rotating strikes between February 10-14.  However, all 83,000 ETFO members will be walking off the job province-wide on February 11. To see which school boards are affected on which day, view the schedule below.

ETFO President Sam Hammond said it is hoped that the job action will spur Education Minister Stephen Lecce and the Ford government to return to the bargaining table.

“It is clear that [teachers] are not going to accept the government’s deep cuts to public education. The minister and his team must come to the table with a mandate to reach a deal that benefits students, student learning and educators,” said Hammond in a news release. “Educators must have the tools and supports to prepare students to realize their individual aspirations and productively contribute to the economic and social fabric of this province.”

Hammond said ETFO members are demanding fair hiring practices, appropriate funding for special education, a strategy to address classroom violence, and that the full-day Kindergarten program remains as is.

Contract talks broke down between ETFO and the province this past Friday after returning to the bargaining table for only three days. Talks had resumed on January 29 after a mediator asked both sides to return to the bargaining table.

Minister Lecce has continued to state that wages and benefits remain a top priority for the teachers’ union, despite the union stating the contrary. The minister also said the government had committed to keeping full-day kindergarten during the last round of bargaining, however, the union’s president refuted that on Tuesday as well.

“Unlike the Minister of Education, I was at the bargaining table last week so I know what was discussed,” said Hammond. “Despite what Minister Lecce is claiming, salary was not addressed during those negotiations, and government negotiators did not sign a letter of commitment to maintain the Kindergarten model.”

Hammond also accused the Ford government of “deliberately creating chaos in our education system” by attempting to cut special education funding for vulnerable students and introducing major concessions around fair hiring.

“The Ford government knows that the public is supporting teachers and educators who are advocating for their students and trying to protect our world-class public education system, and this government is willing to scuttle agreements to try and erode that support,” said Hammond.

A province-wide one-day strike is still scheduled for Thursday, February 6. Elementary teachers with the Thames Valley, Avon-Maitland, and Lambton-Kent school boards recently held a one-day strike on Tuesday, February 4.

The ETFO’s rotating strikes next week 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.