All of Ottawa's 120 English public elementary schools will be closed Friday due to a one-day, province-wide teacher walkout as Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty strives to deem the walkout an "illegal strike."
The local head of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, Peter Giuliani, called it a "one-day political protest walkout" in response to contract that were imposed by the Ontario government last week.
UPDATE | OCDSB left a final decision until Jan. 10 after the premier brought the issue to the Ontario Labour Relations Board. Here's an update.
But the outgoing Ontario premier argued the action is "illegal strike activity" and his government would apply to the Ontario Labour Relations Board for an injunction to prevent any such actions.
Engaging in illegal strike activity can carry a penalty of up to $2,000 per person and $20,000 for a trade union, according to the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board said they had no choice but to close all elementary schools due to the labour unrest.
"This is a … very unfortunate next step to the unions protest against the government, and I … apologize to the students and the parents in our community," said Jennifer Adams, director of education for the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
"We are looking very forward to getting beyond this and getting back to the great teaching and learning that takes place in our school district every day," she said.
Extended day programs open, bus service cancelled
Unlike the previous teacher walkout in Ottawa on Dec. 12, before- and after-school extended day programs run by the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board will remain open to children.
Meanwhile, third-party daycares run inside public schools will decide whether to remain open individually. Parents are advised to check beforehand.
All school bus service for public elementary schools is cancelled for Friday.
High schools and Catholic schools are not affected by the walkout and they will remain open.
Secondary school teachers plan day of action next week
Late Wednesday evening, the union representing Ontario's 60,000 secondary school teachers said it has also planned "a day of political protest," but on Jan. 16.
The Ontario Seconday School Teachers' Federation said in a news release the protest will go forward "if the government has not repealed Bill 115, rescinded the Order in Council that imposed the OECTA MoU and restored free collective bargaining by that date."
If it goes ahead, the protest will include "picketing at Liberal and Tory MPP offices where possible or at local school board offices."
The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board did not say Wednesday night whether high schools will be closed next week.