The union representing the teachers of public elementary schools in Ontario has notified that its members will begin rotating day strikes on Monday unless an agreement is reached with the province by the end of this week.
In a statement issued on Wednesday morning, the Ontario Primary Teachers Federation (ETFO) says the following school meetings will be affected on Monday:
- Toronto District School Board.
- Toronto Catholic District School Board (which affects designated early childhood educators).
- School Board of the District of the York Region.
- Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.
The union is mandated to notify the meetings five days in advance before the strike begins.
ETFO did not announce which boards would be affected, or when, if continuous strikes continued.
However, Sam Hammond, president of ETFO, said the union would make an announcement on Thursday about what would happen after the first strike.
“I am not prepared, frankly, at this time to say what will happen after that,” Hammond told reporters.
The union said the strike will continue unless government representatives “take seriously” about reaching an agreement before Friday.
Meanwhile, the union representing public school teachers in the province said it would hold another one-day strike at nine school meetings on Tuesday, including in Toronto, the largest in Ontario.
It will be the sixth strike of the Federation of Ontario High School Teachers (OSSTF) in recent weeks. In fact, educators and support staff represented by the union were on strike at 16 other public meetings across the province when the announcement was made Wednesday.
The labor action will coincide with a one-day strike planned by the Association of Catholic English Teachers of Ontario.
Province offers parents up to $ 60 per day
Shortly after ETFO gave notice of a strike, the Ministry of Education announced that the province would offer up to $ 60 per day, per child, to parents whose children would be affected by the closures.
Parents are eligible if their children are 12 years old or younger and enrolled in a publicly funded school or in a school-based child care center that will close due to the strike. Parents with children up to 21 years of age with special needs who are enrolled in a publicly funded school are also eligible.
The details of the compensation are as follows:
- $ 60 per day for children up to 6 years old who are not yet enrolled in school but attend a child care center at the school that must close due to a strike.
- $ 40 per day for junior or senior kindergarten students.
- $ 25 per day for students in grades 1 through 7.
- $ 40 total per day for kindergarten through 12th grade students (or 21 years old or younger) with special needs.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce told reporters Wednesday morning that the compensation offer was an effort by the province to be “proactive.”
“We hope it provides some relief to families,” Lecce said.
The cost of this program is $ 48 million per day if all Ontario teacher unions withdrew immediately, Lecce said. According to the ministry, the amount paid in teacher salaries throughout the province equals about $ 60 million per day.
The province is trying to ‘bribe parents’: ETFO
The money supply provoked a strong reaction from the union.
“The education minister in this province blatantly, in a very transparent way, is trying to bribe parents to get their support in this ongoing battle,” said Hammond of ETFO.
Hammond suggested that the province should put the money in the system for “today, tomorrow and in the future, instead of trying to bribe parents.”
4 teachers unions in conversations with the province
This is only the last progress in the ongoing dispute between the four main teacher unions and the progressive conservative government, which have been negotiating new collective agreements since the beginning of September.
The ETFO has said that the key issues are more support for students with special needs, addressing violence in schools and preserving the full-day kindergarten.
Elementary teachers also seek higher salary increases than those offered by the government.
ETFO seems to be following the tactics of OSSTF, which began the one-day strikes on December 4 with a labor action that closed schools across the province.
It has continued with weekly rotary strikes that have closed all high schools and some elementary schools at the affected boards. In addition to representing high school teachers, OSSTF represents education workers in some elementary schools.
The following meetings will be affected by your scheduled stop next week:
- Toronto District School Board.
- Simcoe County School District Board.
- School Board of the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District.
- School Board of the Trillium Lakelands District.
- Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board.
- Rainy River District School Board.
- Near the North District School Board.
- School Board of the Grand Erie District.
- School Board of the Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District.
Teachers were angry when the government announced that the average size of high school classes would increase and that four e-learning courses would be mandatory for graduation. Since then, the government has reduced those proposals, but OSSTF President Harvey Bischof has said that it is not enough.
Lecce has repeatedly said that the key point is compensation, since the union demands a salary increase of approximately two percent and the government offers one percent.