Between Monday and the Christmas break, every elementary school in Ontario will experience a one-day strike, Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) president Sam Hammond confirmed Thursday.
At a news conference earlier Thursday, Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten said that the government won’t move to end the one-day strikes.
Broten said that because the ETFO provided five days’ notice and promised that the strikes would only last one day, she will allow the job action to occur.
“If the strike moves beyond one day, I have the necessary legal documents drafted to end the strike action,” she said.
Teachers at Ontario North East and Avon Maitland district school boards in Timmins and Stratford, respectively, will strike on Monday. Other boards in the province will follow suit, but specific dates haven’t been revealed.
Broten called ETFO’s decision to strike “disappointing.”
Premier Dalton McGuinty agreed, saying in a statement that the EFTO should continue their court fight, and not battle in the province’s schools. But he said, “We just don’t believe that a one-day strike warrants the heavy hand of government.”
Meanwhile, York region high school teachers will stop volunteering for extracurricular activities on Thursday.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) said that York region teachers will be in the classroom 15 minutes before classes begin and will leave right after they end.
“Support staff workers will report to and depart from their workplaces at the beginning and end of their regular work hours,” OSSTF president Ken Coran said in a statement, blaming the labour action on the province’s controversial Bill 115.
“It is Bill 115 that has caused chaos in our schools…we hope that students and parents recognize that this fight is not with them, but with the Ontario Liberal Government,” he said.
Bill 115 allows the government to impose a two-year contract on teachers that includes a wage freeze, halves sick days and ends teachers’ ability to bank unused sick days.
It also gives Broten the power to end a strike or lockout without debating the issue in the provincial legislature.
A majority of Ontario elementary teachers have voted in favour of staging one-day political protests if Broten uses Bill 115 to end the strikes or impose a collective agreement, the ETFO said Wednesday.
Earlier this week, the union said it would give parents 72-hours’ notice before walking off the job.
More than 46,000 members voted, with 92 per cent in favour of the protests.
With files from Michael Talbot