Ontario public elementary teachers plan third one-day strike next week

Ontario public elementary teachers plan third one-day strike next week

For the third day in a row, Ontario’s public elementary teachers have announced plans for a strike next week — meaning members in a handful of boards will now be off the job on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario notified all 83,000 members in an early-morning memo sent out Friday, saying the rotating walkouts will go ahead if no deal with the provincial government is reached.

No talks are scheduled.

The boards to be targetted next Wednesday are Rainy River (Fort Frances area), Thames Valley (London area) and Rainbow (Sudbury area).

On Monday, members — who include teachers, early childhood educators and school staff — will be off the job in Ottawa-Carleton, York Region and Toronto public boards, as well as the Toronto Catholic.

On Tuesday, the walkout will hit Superior Greenstone (Thunder Bay area), Renfrew, Grand Erie and Trillium Lakelands (Haliburton/Kawartha).

The union says the “critical issues” it wants the province to address include smaller classes, better supports for special needs students, a commitment to full-day kindergarten, as well as compensation.

The province is offering a one per cent annual raise — in line with recent legislation passed capping public sector wage increases — but teacher unions are seeking cost of living, or about two per cent a year.

Also on Tuesday, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ is staging a province-wide strike, and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation is holding strikes in 13 boards.

The province’s French teachers, represented by AEFO, have just begun a largely administrative work-to-rule.

They are the only teacher union currently at the negotiating table with the province.

Unions are required to provide five days’ notice of any job action.

Teachers are fighting government plans to boost class sizes that will phase out thousands of jobs and limit course options in high schools, and the introduction of mandatory online courses for teens.

Premier Doug Ford’s government has already announced it will spend up to $48 million per day to repay parents for child-care costs during any work stoppage.

On Thursday, Ford said the the reimbursement is “a little way of supporting (parents) if they have to go to daycare and have their kids in daycare. They have lives to carry on. They have to go to work. And so I think it was a good move that we’re using the (savings from) teachers’ salaries to compensate the parents that have to pay.”

The mounting tensions between the province and teachers now means all four unions are engaging in job action for the first time in more than 20 years, from work-to-rule to day-long strikes.

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Because Ontario’s teacher unions also bargain for support and professional staff in schools, Catholic, French and public boards can all be impacted by just one union’s job action.

More to come.

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