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Union says province will guarantee full-day kindergarten if teachers accept wage cap

Beginning Monday, public elementary school teachers will not supervise extra-curricular activities unless they are during the regular school day. And they will not participate in field trips. In addition, teachers say they'll begin rotating strikes on Monday if the province doesn't address their concerns by Friday.

Thames Valley ETFO president Craig Smith calls it an 'impossible choice'

The teachers are threatening rolling strikes by Monday if a deal cannot be reached with the province. (Brenna Owen/CBC)

Beginning Monday, teachers at public elementary schools in Ontario will not take part in extra-curricular activities if they are outside regular school hours.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) says teachers will also not participate in field trips or assemblies except to provide supervision to students.

"There's a pinch, that's for sure. And we know it will be a challenge," said Craig Smith, the president of Thames Valley EFTO local.

"It will be unpopular with some of the parents. That said, I think a number of parents recognize too, that the short term disruption, the short term pain...is nothing compared to the disruption and pain that will be felt by students should the cuts be put into place that the government is proposing."

Smith said to build solidarity, the union expects teachers to report to work no more than 30 minutes in advance of the instructional school day, and they must leave 15 minutes after the day is over. 

Looking for commitment to kindergarten program

In an interview with London Morning's Rebecca Zandbergen Smith said the main sticking point is over the province's kindergarten program, which was called into question last year when Premier Doug Ford suggested he couldn't guarantee it after this school year.

But the province has tied a commitment to full-day kindergarten to a one per cent cap on teachers' salaries, Smith said.

"They've said if you want to keep kindergarten, you have to take the one per cent."

Smith called that an "impossible choice." 

Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario local president Craig Smith discusses wage increases and full-day kindergarten on London Morning. 1:12

A spokesperson with the Ministry of Education would not comment on whether the province has tied those two issues together.

A year ago, the ministry would commit to full-day kindergarten beyond the 2019-2020 school year. Instead, children will have some form of learning environment to go to, but exactly what that will look like will depend on consultations that are currently ongoing. 

Rotating strikes looming

The union is also threatening rotating strikes by next Monday unless the government addresses what it calls 'critical issues' by this Friday.

"In six months of contract talks, the Ford government's education minister has given his negotiators no mandate to discuss anything other than cuts to education including a $150 million cut to public elementary education," said ETFO President Sam Hammond in a press release.

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