Kitchener-Waterloo

Waterloo Region high school teachers could strike May 4

The Waterloo Region District School school board has sent a letter home to parents to explain exactly how a potential teachers' strike would affect their children amid a backdrop of mounting tension between teachers and school administrators as they try to hash out a labour deal before an early May deadline.

Waterloo Region District School Board says no board report has been received

The Waterloo Region District School school board has sent a letter home to parents to explain exactly how a potential teachers' strike would affect their children amid a backdrop of mounting tension between teachers and school administrators as they try to hash out a labour deal before an early May deadline. 

The letter, sent Tuesday and addressed to "students and families," is signed by director of education John Bryant and board chair Kathleen Woodcock. It comes on the same day teachers in Peel Region set an official strike date of May 4 and on the second day of a strike already underway by high school teachers in Durham Region. 

The letter from the Waterloo District School Board warns parents of a potential strike by local high school teachers on May as teachers in Durham hit the picket lines for a second day. (Shannon Martin/CBC)

"Our concern is the with the safety, success and well-being of our students," the letter said. "We want you to clearly understand the status of our schools if there is a full withdrawal of services in WRDSB secondary schools."

Under provincial law, school boards must be given at least five days notice before any strike action by teachers is to take place. 

"As such, the earliest possible WRDSB teachers may strike is May 4, 2015," the letter said. 

It goes on to provide a list of cancellations and closures in the event high school teachers walk off the job: 

  • All WRDSB secondary schools would be closed.
  • All instructional programs for grade 9 to 12 students will be cancelled.
  • Extracurricular activities, field trips and school events will be cancelled.
  • Buses for secondary students will not operate.
  • Buses will continue their routes for elementary students only.

The letter also said that teachers will likely be picketing outside of Waterloo Region District School Board secondary schools, but the board does not expect picket lines outside elementary schools. 

The union representing Waterloo Region high school teachers, said it has not yet set an official strike date in Waterloo, even though members would be in a position to do so on May 4.  however would not comment on the letter or any potential job action.

"We are still negotiating," Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation District 24 President Sherry Freund wrote in an email to CBC News on Tuesday.

The Durham job action is the first full strike by Ontario teachers since the Liberals came to power more than a decade ago.

There were rotating one-day strikes three years ago when the unions were angered by the government's decision to legislate contracts and wage freezes on the teachers.

The relationship has since slowly improved but tension is brewing once again as the Liberals try to eliminate a $10.9-billion budget deficit through measures that include "net zero" increases in contract negotiations, though the unions say there are outstanding issues other than wages.

With files from The Canadian Press

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