The three largest teachers’ unions in the province are planning strikes that will impact some or all school boards in the Greater Toronto Area this week.
The Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario (ETFO), the Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation (OSSTF), and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) are leading province-wide walkouts and continuing rolling strikes.
Here’s a day-by-day breakdown of the planned action:
Monday, Feb. 3
- The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) will hold walkouts in seven Ontario school boards, including the Halton Region District School Board.
Tuesday, Feb. 4
- The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, representing all public English high school teachers in the province, will hold walkouts in 10 school boards, including the York Region District School Board.
- ETFO will hold walkouts in 10 boards including Durham Region District School Board, Peel Region District School Board and Upper Grand District School Board.
- Catholic elementary and secondary school in the province will shut down and all teachers will be on a one-day strike.
Wednesday, Feb. 5
- ETFO members in nine boards outside the GTA will walk off the job.
Thursday, Feb. 6
- ETFO will hold a one-day strike shutting down all English public elementary schools in Ontario.
Friday, Feb. 7
- EFTO members in nine boards including Toronto District School Board, York Region District School Board and Hamilton-Wentworth will walk off the job.
The planned job action is part of an ongoing dispute between Ontario’s teachers’ unions and the Ministry of Education.
Teachers’ unions, particularly the three representing secondary teachers, are opposed to class size increases and mandatory e-learning requirements imposed by the government.
The Tories announced last March that average secondary school class sizes would jump from 22 to 28 and four e-learning courses would be mandatory for graduation.
The province has since scaled back those increases, to an average class size of 25 and two e-learning courses, but the unions say that’s not good enough.
Unions are asking for wage increases around two per cent to keep up with inflation, but the government passed legislation last year capping wage increases for all public sector workers to one per cent for three years.
The teachers’ unions and several others are fighting it in court, arguing it infringes on collective bargaining rights.
On Thursday, OECTA announced it was set to return to the bargaining table on Monday, Feb. 3.
“We are pleased to be getting back to negotiations. However, it remains to be seen how serious the discussions will be,” president Liz Stuart wrote in a statement.
“We would like nothing more than to focus on reaching an agreement, but the government needs to understand that their proposed cuts simply cannot stay on the table. At this point, the strike action planned for February 4 will go ahead.”
The province and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario also returned to the bargaining table last Wednesday for the first time since Dec. 19.
Focus is on keeping kids in class, Lecce says
Following the latest round of bargaining with ETFO, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said while the government has demonstrated its focus on keeping kids in class through a voluntary agreement — compensation, pay, and benefits, remain a top priority for teachers’ union leaders.
“Even following our formal commitment to one of their publicly-stated priorities, ETFO leadership continues to advance compensation for their members over the protection of the education system for our youngest learners,” Lecce said in a written statement Friday.
“The government has continued to signal reasonableness on issues from special education supports to efforts to counter violence in schools. Yet, the teachers’ union leadership push for compensation that comes with a substantial cost to the taxpayer.”
Lecce said while the mediator has called off discussions for now, the government stands ready to meet at any time, to reach a deal that keeps students in class.