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Ontario public high school teachers announce another 1-day strike

The union representing Ontario public high school teachers has announced its members will stage another one-day strike in certain locations next Wednesday to put pressure on the province to resume contract talks.

Fourth 1-day walkout slated for select boards, including Peel District School Board, next Wednesday

Ontario public high school teachers announced on Friday that they are staging another one-day walkout to put pressure on the provincial government to resume contract talks. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

The union representing Ontario public high school teachers has announced its members will stage another one-day strike in certain locations next Wednesday to put pressure on the province to resume contract talks.

In a Friday news release, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) says the job action will affect eight English school boards, the largest of which is the Peel District School Board.

A full withdrawal of services will occur at the following boards should the union not reach a deal with the provincial government before the date:

  • Algoma District School Board
  • Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board
  • Greater Essex County District School Board
  • Avon Maitland District School Board
  • District School Board of Niagara
  • Limestone District School Board
  • Renfrew County District School Board

The job action will affect a large number of French schools as well.

Harvey Bischof, OSSTF's president, said in the release that the teachers are staging the job action over concerns about larger class sizes, mandatory e-learning and education funding cuts being implemented by Doug Ford's government.

"As a new year begins, we hope the Ford government and the Minister of Education will finally be prepared to do the right thing and negotiate a deal that is good for students, good for teachers and education workers, and good for the future economy of Ontario," Bischof said.

Contract talks broke off on Dec. 16. At the time, a spokesperson for the Ontario Public School Boards' Association said negotiations were expected to resume in January.

In a statement on Friday, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce criticized the union for announcing the action.

"Parents have been clear: strikes by unions hurt kids and that investments should go to support student success, not toward enhanced compensation. We agree with Ontario parents," Lecce said in the statement.

"This is why we will continue to vigorously champion the interests of students and seek stability for parents in 2020, who are frustrated and tired of the union-led escalation that began in 2019. This continued strike action is unfair to students and their families."

Bischof replied that the cuts to education, support staff and course options are unfair.

"What I hope is that, by the time we get back to the table, this government has stepped back and reconsidered its agenda of eroding the quality of education," Bischof said. 

"And I hope they listen to what the parents have told them and come to the table with new issues that will support the quality of education."

According to the union and the Ontario education ministry, no new dates have been scheduled for bargaining to resume.

The latest labour action follows one-day walkouts by the union on Dec. 4, 11 and 18.

In addition to public high school teachers, the OSSTF represents occasional teachers, educational assistants, continuing education teachers and instructors, early childhood educators, psychologists, secretaries, speech-language pathologists, social workers, plant support staff and university support staff.

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