Ontario's 4th-largest teachers' union announces weekly strikes

Ontario's fourth largest teachers' union says it will begin once-weekly, one-day strikes amid wider unrest between education workers and the province.

Union representing French-language teachers to start one-day walkouts next week

All four major teachers' unions in Ontario are engaged in job action. (Kate Dubinski/CBC)

Ontario's fourth largest teachers' union says it will begin once-weekly strikes amid wider unrest between education workers and the province.

The Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO) will begin staging one-day walkouts next Thursday, the union said today.

AEFO represents 12,000 members, including French-language teachers in Ontario in both public and Catholic boards as well as support staff in French-language workplaces.

AEFO President Rémi Sabourin said in a statement that the union is currently "waging several battles," including over funding for students with special education needs.

The statement notes it will be the first time since the creation of French school boards in 1997 that the union has launched "strike action of this scale."

"School boards and the government seem determined to oppose any possibility of moving forward with bargaining," Sabourin said.

Meanwhile, public elementary teachers are on strike at several Ontario boards today including the largest one, in Toronto.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario resumes its rotating strikes today, a day after a provincewide walkout.

Teachers are walking the picket lines in the Algoma, Greater Essex County, Hamilton-Wentworth, Limestone, Moosonee, Moose Factory, Niagara, Toronto, Waterloo and York Region school boards as well as the Bloorview, John McGivney Children's Centre, KidsAbility, and Niagara Peninsula Children's Centre school authorities, and early childhood educators at the Toronto Catholic board.

Union president Sam Hammond has said the union was close to a deal with the government after three days of talks last week, but the province's negotiators suddenly tabled new proposals at the 11th hour that ETFO couldn't accept.

He says key issues include special education funding, full-day kindergarten, hiring regulations and addressing classroom violence.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce says teachers are escalating strikes to advance higher compensation.

With files from The Canadian Press