Elementary school students. (© Can Stock Photo / oksun70)

OECTA votes overwhelmingly for strike mandate

Ontario’s English Catholic school teachers have given their union a strike mandate.

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) announced the results of a province-wide vote Wednesday afternoon, with 97.1 per cent of members agreeing to take strike action should the need arise.

“The strike vote result sends a resounding message to the Ford government,” OECTA president Liz Stuart said in a news release issued Wednesday. “Catholic teachers will not accept any agreement that would be detrimental to the learning and working conditions in our schools, and are prepared to stand together and protect Ontario’s world-renowned system of publicly funded education.”

The union is not yet in a legal strike position. In the meantime, Stuart said they will still press the Ontario government to address the issues facing teachers. Negotiations will continue on Thursday and Friday.

“Our goal remains to negotiate a fair collective agreement that respects Catholic teachers’ contributions, ensures the safety and well-being of teachers and students, and protects vital programs and services in our schools,” said Stuart. “The government should take heed of the message they have received today, and come to the table prepared to work with us toward this end.”

About 45,000 teachers work in English-language Catholic schools between kindergarten and grade 12.

The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has already set a strike target date of November 25, after that union also voted overwhelmingly to authorize strike action if needed.