Ontario teachers begin 1-day walkouts
York Region District walkout will close schools on Thursday
Ontario teachers are starting a series of rotating one-day walkouts across the province today, with strikes expected for Ottawa on Wednesday and the Greater Toronto Area on Thursday.
Two small school boards — Avon Maitland near Goderich and Ontario North East near Timmins — will be hit with one-day walkouts on Monday.
Day-long strikes will happen Wednesday at schools in the Hastings-Prince Edward District School Board, Lakehead District School Board, as well as in the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, as previously confirmed.
The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) gave notice Monday that its members in the York Region District school board will stage a one-day strike on Thursday.
ETFO has said it will give 72 hours' notice before any strike.
"I was disappointed to learn that some ETFO locals have announced their intention to conduct a one-day strike on Monday in the Avon Maitland and Ontario North East district school boards," said Premier Dalton McGuinty in a statement released Thursday.
"These actions place students squarely in the middle of a dispute between ETFO and this government."
Meanwhile, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation says its members will withdraw from all non-classroom work starting Monday. That would include extracurricular sports and events such as holiday concerts.
Walkouts cause 'confusion and concern'
Toronto District School Board chair Chris Bolton, who appeared Monday on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning to discuss the rotating strikes, said elementary and junior schools will be forced to close in any school board hit by strike action because student supervision will be compromised.
"We need to have a safe learning environment and we can’t guarantee that under these circumstances," he told host Matt Galloway.
He also said the walkouts are causing "confusion and concern," among parents.
The union says the walkouts are to protest legislation that gives the government power to stop strikes and impose collective agreements, measures the union says impede local bargaining.
McGuinty has said the government won't stop the walkouts because they are only for one day and the elementary teachers' union has promised to give three days' notice.
"Just as students and parents have the right to stability in their schools, teachers have the opportunity to strike when there is no collective agreement in place," he said.
Education Minister Laurel Broten has warned that the government has drawn up legal documents to stop any strikes that stretch beyond a single school day.
Meanwhile, students at many schools are organizing protests of their own, with some even planning walkouts.
Kourosh Houshmand, in Grade 12 at Earl Haig Secondary School in north Toronto, is recruiting students to join him in a walkout planned for Monday morning.
"It’s affecting Grade 12 students who want to beef up their university applications," he told CBC.