Ontario elementary teachers stop extra-curricular activities amid work-to-rule campaign

Ontario elementary teachers won’t supervise any extra-curricular activities beginning today, as they step up their work-to-rule campaign amid contract talks.

Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario says talks with province, school boards continue

Ontario elementary teachers will stop supervising extra-curricular activities as part of an ongoing work-to-rule campaign. (Robert MacPherson/AFP/Getty)

Ontario elementary teachers won't supervise any extra-curricular activities beginning today, as they step up their work-to-rule campaign amid contract talks.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO), which represents some 78,000 elementary public school teachers in the province, announced last week it would be escalating its ongoing job action.

School support staff, including custodians, school office staff and education assistants, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, are also part of the job action.

Children's lives are being negatively affected- Kathleen Wynne, Ontario premier

The latest move means all sorts of school programs — from bands to sports teams — will stop. The Toronto District School Board, meanwhile, said in a memo to parents it won't be able to produce Kindergarten to Grade 8 progress reports in early November, as it had planned. And, the TDSB warned, the job action is also leaving schools dirtier.

TDSB chair Robin Pilkey told Metro Morning that principals are working hard to minimize the effect on students. 

"It's not business as usual," she told host Matt Galloway. "Teachers are still teaching, which is great. But there's a lot of confusion and there's a lot of expectations that are hard to meet and report cards are one of those."

Galloway asked Pilkey about the suggestion that teachers in some schools have submitted written comments for student progress reports but that principals have opted not to input them into the system. 

Pilkey said this isn't true and that the report card system isn't properly set up. "There's nothing to input [the reports] into," she said. 

The work-to-rule campaign also means some schools aren't being cleaned as support staff work to rule. Pilkey said principals are keeping a close eye on the state of school buildings.

"I don't think [schools] are clean, but I don't think they're unsafe," said Pilkey. "The board is not going to let it become unsafe to students."

Parents have been increasingly frustrated with the situation.

ETFO President Sam Hammond announced plans last week to escalate teachers' work-to-rule campaign. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)
"We want them to solve their problems soon and start extra-curriculars soon," said Toronto mother Purvi Shah, whose son, Aman, will no longer be able to practice cross-country running before classes.

Negotiations between ETFO, the Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA) and the provincial government are ongoing.

Province threatens to dock teacher pay

Premier Kathleen Wynne has threatened to dock teachers' pay if they continue the work-to-rule campaign past Nov. 1, saying last week "children's lives are being negatively affected."

"Schools are increasingly dirty and activities that are important to students and parents such as completion of report cards are not taking place," Wynne told reporters at Queen's Park.

ETFO President Sam Hammond said the union won't respond to threats. The union has several key issues it wants addressed, including class size, hiring practices and teacher preparation time.

Elementary teachers have been without a contract since August 2014.

Previously, teachers had refused to hold parent-teacher meetings or go on class trips as part of the work-to-rule campaign.

Earlier this fall, the province reached deals with other major teachers' unions.

Pilkey said the best solution is a new labour deal so classrooms can return to normal. 

"We're hoping that we come to a settlement soon," she said. 


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