Public high school students in Durham, Hamilton and Ottawa will not have classes Wednesday as the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation holds another in a series of rotating strikes at almost 20 school boards to protest stalled contract talks with the province.
“It’s time for the Ford government to come to the table with meaningful responses to our proposals so that we can work toward a deal that protects the quality of education in Ontario,” OSSTF president Harvey Bischof said in a statement Friday.
The move came a day after Premier Doug Ford said he wants to “get a deal done” with education unions — two of which subsequently decided to escalate job action to press contract demands.
Starting Monday, members of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario will stop supervising after-school extracurricular activities such as sports and theatre and will no longer go on field trips. Members won’t arrive at schools more than 30 minutes before the start of the school day and will leave no later than 15 minutes of the final afternoon bell.
Meanwhile, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association announced members in all Catholic schools from kindergarten to Grade 12 will not complete report cards or help with the preparation for EQAO standardized tests.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s office did not immediately respond to the OSSTF announcement on Friday, but the minister said Thursday that “parents are justifiably frustrated that teacher unions escalate every few years.”
The 83,000-member Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario has threatened to begin rotating strikes starting Jan. 20 unless a contract is reached, potentially forcing hundreds of thousands of parents to make child-care arrangements for their kids.
Teachers’ unions say government plans to increase class sizes and force students to take online courses will compromise the quality of education, and argue a Ford government law restricting public sector wage increases to one per cent is unconstitutional because it restricts collective bargaining.
The OSSTF said boards affects by Wednesday’s strike will include the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board, the District School Board Ontario North East, the Moose Factory Island District Area School Board, the James Bay Lowlands Secondary School Board, the Rainbow District School Board, the Bluewater District School Board, the Upper Grand District School Board, the Wellington Catholic District School Board, the Durham District School Board, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, the Upper Canada District School Board, Conseil scolaire de district catholique des Grandes Rivières, Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l’Est ontarien, and the Provincial Schools Authority.
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