Ottawa elementary teachers talk pre-Christmas strike
2 Ontario school boards to hold one-day strike Monday
The union representing Ottawa's English public school elementary teachers organized its members to discuss their one-day walkout, which will happen before Christmas and possibly as early as next week.
On Thursday, Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten said she would allow one-day walkouts by teachers to go ahead in two small school boards without legislating them back to work, but said she is prepared to act if the job action goes further.
The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario gave formal notice Wednesday for one-day walkouts to be staged in two small school districts — Avon Maitland and Ontario North East — on Monday.
The union told CBC News Thursday every elementary public school in the province would be affected by a walkout by Christmas.
Avon Maitland District School Board has schools in communities such as Stratford, Wingham and Goderich. Ontario North East District School Board covers communities such as Timmins, Kirkland Lake and Iroquois Falls.
"Given that ETFO has provided five days notice … I am prepared to let one day of legal strike action go," Broten said Thursday. "If strike action goes beyond one day, I have the necessary legal documents drafted and ready to end any strike action that will put student success and safety at risk," said Broten.
Ottawa-Carleton Elementary Teachers Federation president Peter Giuliani said the union was glad to hear Broten said the province would not intervene in the two Monday strikes but said he found the way the message was worded was "bizarre."
The local bargaining unit met with members at the CE Centre in an information session with teachers to ensure they are prepared if and when a strike in Ottawa is called.
A strike would mean parents of elementary school students would have 72 hours to make alternate arrangements for their children for the day.
"We know this is a moral issue and that's why we're standing by it," said Giuliani.
The teachers' union has said the walkouts are in protest of Bill 115, which gives the government the power to stop strikes and impose a collective agreement if it doesn't like what the union and local boards negotiate.