Teachers' job action kills Christmas party for kids

Job action scheduled by high school teachers has already killed a Christmas party planned to benefit underprivileged kids in Windsor.
Teachers' job action has killed a Christmas party for underprivileged children in Windsor-Essex. 2:30

Job action scheduled by high school teachers has already killed a Christmas party planned to benefit underprivileged kids in Windsor.

Vincent Massey's Annual Children's Christmas Party was organized by approximately 30 students. It was intended to give a little Christmas to elementary school kids in Windsor-Essex. They were told last week the party scheduled for Dec. 15 is cancelled, said student organizer Karen Wang.

Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers Federation District 9 president Jeff Brosseau was not aware of the situation at Massey.

He did say teachers will not likely be willing to bend or make an exception in any case where events have been planned for months.

"When you open door to one exception there’s more behind it and the purpose of the [job] action is defeated," Brosseau said.

He said there are currently can drives going on across the school board and those could be affected, too.

"There’s nothing stopping teachers from going to their principal and vice principal and saying, ‘Here’s where we’re at right now. Have at it.’ And then they pick up the torch and run with it," he said.

The Massey high school students have been fundraising, planning and promoting since September. But the teachers union says its members will no longer be taking part in extra-curricular activities.

"For the last three months we were always worried this would happen. The last three months of work has come to an end," said student organizer and student school board trustee Karen Wang. "It's upsetting for the children, as well. It's tough to tell these kids we're not having it this year."

This party has been held for more than a decade.

Wang fears job action will also hurt any students relying on extracurricular activities for university and scholarship applications.

"Being a Grade 12 student, personally, we rely on these extracurricular now for our scholarship applications, our university applications and now that we don't have these sports or clubs to put onto our resumes and applications it's a really difficult time for us," Wang said.

Wang said she isn't taking sides in the dispute between teachers and the province, which passed legislation that bans teachers from striking and imposes a wage freeze.

"As for sides, there's no side to be on. I just need to work on finding alternative ways to successfully be involved in school," Wang said.

Wang and Brosseau both said students and parents should be writing and calling their MPPs to encourage them to come up with a solution to end the dispute.