Ontario families can claim up to $ 60 per day to help cover their expenses if teacher strikes close their children’s school or childcare at school, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced Wednesday.
The move comes when the Ontario Primary Teachers Federation (ETFO) said its members will go on a one-day strike on Monday at school boards in the district of Toronto, York and Ottawa-Carleton.
And the Ontario High School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) said it would hold a one-day strike next Tuesday at several meetings, including the Toronto District School Board (TDSB).
“We recognize that the impact of union escalation on families is real and unions expect working families to bear the costs of these cyclical labor actions,” said Lecce. “It’s just a sign to parents that we are trying to be on their side and put a few dollars in their pockets to help them with the impacts of adverse reality.”
The total cost per day, if all unions go on strike at the same time, is $ 48 million, an amount that would be offset by the $ 60 million anticipated in salary savings derived from the labor action, Lecce said.
The Ontario government said it had already received 11,991 funding requests at 5 p.m. Wednesday: 11,524 applications for students who have been out of class and 467 applications for children who were unable to access their child care.
ETFO President Sam Hammond accused Lecce of trying to bribe parents to get their support.
“Instead of deciding to get to the table … what you decide to do is let this get longer and provide a subsidy to parents if and when they need that allowance,” Hammond said Wednesday. “How awful is that.”
The government will compensate eligible parents of children up to 12 years or Grade 7, or up to 21 years of age for children and youth with special needs, who are out of their school financed with public funds due to strikes.
Parents can request $ 60 per day for children up to six years old who are not yet enrolled in school but attend a child care center that closes due to a work action; $ 40 per day for students in Junior Kindergarten and Senior Kindergarten; $ 25 per day for students in grades 1-7; and $ 40 per day for students with special needs.
The TDSB said in an online message to parents that it would have no choice but to close all of its elementary schools on Monday if the province and ETFO fail to reach an agreement necessary to avoid a one-day strike.
Catholic English teachers in the province have said they will attack on Tuesday across the province. Ontario public high school teachers have been performing rotary strikes and French-language teachers have announced the withdrawal of administrative services.
When asked if he was prepared to legislate education workers and striking teachers back to work, Lecce said he was focused on negotiation.
However, Lecce added that he would be observing the impact of the strikes on the parents.