1-day strike Wednesday would close Hamilton public high schools unless deal reached

The OSSTF is planning a one-day strike on Dec. 4 across the province unless they reach a deal by Wednesday. All secondary schools in the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board will be closed.

Alex Johnstone, HWDSB chair, said the board has concerns about increases to class sizes

A one day strike proposed by the OSSTF on Dec. 4 would close down some secondary schools in the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

A one-day strike proposed by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) would close many schools across the province, including all public high schools in the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board and some Catholic District School Board schools. 

The proposed strike, set for Dec. 4, would go ahead if no deal is reached between the OSSTF and the province before Wednesday. 

The strike follows six days of information pickets and a limited withdrawal of administrative services that began last Tuesday.

The OSSTF will be picketing at various high schools in Hamilton on Dec. 4, according to the Hamilton and District Labour Council. They announced Monday on Twitter that the Hamilton schools would include Ancaster High, Bernie Custis Secondary, Dundas Valley Secondary, Orchard Park Secondary, Sir Allan MacNab Secondary, Westmount Secondary, Westdale Secondary, and Waterdown Secondary. 

Any strike would close down secondary schools, but elementary schools, licensed child care centres, before and after school programs, and EarlyON child and family centres would remain open. 

The labour council announced on Twitter that strike captains and picket captains will be at each striking site.

The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB) will close the St. Charles Adult & Continuing Education Centres. All other Catholic schools will remain open for now, according to Marnie Jadon, communications manager with the HWCDSB. Ontario Catholic teachers are not members of the OSSTF. Their members have voted 97 per cent in favour of a strike and are moving closer to a legal strike position after their union, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association, requested a "no-board" report on Friday, which can take a few days to be issued.

The District School Board of Niagara announced, also on Friday, that all secondary schools will be closed pending the strike, including athletic activities, extracurricular activities, field trips, and co-op placements. 

Alex Johnstone, HWDSB board chair, said that the issue at hand is about the increase to class sizes. 

"Trustees have strongly stood against increased class size," she said in a statement. "In 2018-2019, trustees worked hard to curb the impact of increased class size by redirecting local contingency funds to protect as many courses as possible."

The statement goes on to say that if the settlement reached between the OSSTF and the province doesn't address protecting class sizes, students will lose opportunities for their future.

The board encourages parents to speak out and be informed about what's at stake.


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