Ottawa public school elementary teachers say they will be taking job action as of Monday morning unless a deal is reached, which has cancelled holiday concerts and field trips for at least one school.
The Ottawa-Carleton Elementary Teachers' Federation will be in a legal strike position as of Dec. 1. The ETFO said Wednesday it will give parents a 72-hour warning of further strikes planned for December that would affect operations in public elementary schools.
Teachers will continue to teach and supervise students during school hours on Monday, according to the union, but they will not be attending scheduled meetings or participating in professional development.
The job action is separate from the decision of many teachers to withdraw from extra-curricular activities and other after-hours work as part of their protest against the Ontario Liberal government's Bill 115, which froze wages and curbed the ability of teachers to strike.
Parents concerned about cancellations
Stephen Leacock Public School in Kanata has cancelled field trips, holiday concerts, special events and fundraising, as well as extracurricular activities, according to a note from principal Pauline McKenna posted on the school website.
The Ottawa Catholic District School Board said it reached a tentative agreement with the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, which was ratified at a meeting Tuesday. The board was the first Catholic school board in Ontario to reach an agreement, it boasted in a news release.
Other schools could follow that same plan, which is worrying parents such as Henry Watt.
Watt said his 10-year-old son is in the special needs program at Cambridge Public School and the father is worried about how the changes will affect his child.
"It's particularly difficult for special needs children when the teachers don't do everything that they could be doing," Watt said.
"They don't accept changes very well in general, and transitions that are abrupt upset some of the children.
Jennifer Adams, the director of education with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, said teachers have already let the board know there would be job action if a deal is not made.
Peter Giuliani, who is bargaining on behalf of the teachers, said the job action is necessary, adding parents need to be understanding.
"I honestly believe the best thing to do is to thank people for all the volunteer work they have been doing, state that you understand that there are problems, and tell your kids that sometimes you don't get exactly what you were hoping to get," said Giuliani.