Ontario elementary schools to see walkouts before Christmas
Teachers across province to stage 1-day walkouts
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario says every public elementary school in the province will have a one-day walkout by teachers before the start of the Christmas holiday.
An ETFO spokesperson confirmed to CBC News on Thursday that the strikes will begin Monday and all will occur before the last day of school before the holidays.
Earlier Thursday, ETFO had given formal notice that one-day walkouts will be staged Monday in two small school districts — Avon Maitland and Ontario North East.
- 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.
Education Minister Laurel Broten had said she would allow the one-day walkouts by to go ahead in those school boards without legislating teachers back to work, but she's prepared to act if the job action goes further.
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.
Under the new law, teachers have until Dec. 31 to negotiate deals with school boards. They must be similar to the one the Liberals struck with English Catholic teachers in the summer that froze the wages of most teachers and cut benefits, such as the banking of sick days that can be cashed out at retirement.
Four unions are taking the cash-strapped government to court over the law, arguing it's unconstitutional and violates collective bargaining rights.
Job action escalates
Premier Dalton McGuinty said the one-day teachers' walkout would be an inconvenience for parents, but does not warrant government intervention.
Job action by Ontario teachers has been escalating for months, from the initial withdrawal of volunteer activities — such as coaching sports teams — to skipping certain tasks such as administering standardized tests, and keeping report card comments to a minimum.
Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak said Thursday it's "unbelievable" that Broten would allow one-day walkouts when she has the power to stop them.
"Parents are now going to have to scramble to get daycare for their kids, maybe stay home from their job," he said.
"Kids are going to miss out on their education. Every dollar spent on daycare, that’s on the Ontario Liberals' heads. They had an opportunity to stop these strikes."
The New Democrats say they would repeal the legislation and restart negotiations with the teachers' unions.