The battle over provincial Bill 115 has come to a head in one public school board in the northeast.
There will be no school today for elementary aged students with the District School Board Ontario North East, which covers schools from Temagami up to Hearst. Elementary teachers told the board last week they would hold a one-day walkout Monday — and the board responded by cancelling classes.
Meanwhile in Sudbury, elementary public school teachers have planned a different kind of job action for Monday.
Barb Blasutti, president of the Sudbury chapter of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, said teachers with the Rainbow board will not walk off the job Monday, but plan to withdraw completely from other administrative duties and meetings.
If elementary teachers in Sudbury decide on a walkout, the board will be given 72 hours notice to prepare, she said, adding that daycares will be unaffected.
Secondary school teachers stop volunteering
Ontario public high school teachers are expected to ramp up job action Monday by ending all voluntary and all extra-curricular activites — a move that has some students in Sudbury concerned.
Lo-Ellen Park Secondary student Faira Dewar, who’s in Grade 12, said she worries how work-to-rule will affect her.
"And because it's Christmas all the celebrations can't really happen, and we also have our Adopt-a-Family going on this month," she said.
Dewar said the school-run initiative raises money to buy Christmas gifts for local families, and she worries the families won’t receive their presents.
"Obviously, we aren't in charge of giving it to them, because we don't know who they are, so I'm not sure how that will work out," she said.
The president of the union representing 800 secondary teachers in Sudbury said teachers and support staff can't participate in any clubs or sports teams, but noted charity events, including the adopt-a-family program at Lo-Ellen, will continue.
"Charity events that have been scheduled for December are still being carried on," James Clyke said.
A representative with the Rainbow District School Board said the sports schedule will remain the same for at least this week and noted teams are currently being run by volunteer community coaches.
Province won't intervene
Premier Dalton McGuinty has said the government won't stop the planned walkouts since they are so far planned for one day. The elementary teachers' union has also promised to give boards 72-hours notice.
Education Minister Laurel Broten said the government has drawn up legal documents to stop any strikes that stretch beyond a single school day.