Ontario is set to have its first ever province-wide teachers strike Friday as about 200,000 teachers and education workers will be on the picket line, which means two million students will be out of school today.
It’s expected that 30,000 union members will strike at Queen’s Park and another 20,000 will be picketing along Highway 10 in Peel Region.
The four main teachers’ unions will strike together after contract negotiations have been as standstill for months. Contract talks have been stalled with the Ford government and the country’s largest education union, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO). The union has threatened that even more strike action may come next week in a memo to its 83,000 members that a “Phase 6 strike protocol” although details of what that means exactly have been withheld, according to the Globe and Mail.
“I would say that you can be sure that we have everyone’s best interests in mind and certainly we want nothing more than to have the government meet us at the table to negotiate a deal that is positive and constructive for students, for families and for the future of public education,” said Joy Lachica, president of the Elementary Teachers of Toronto.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce disagrees, calling the strike “unhelpful,” and said, “Parents are rightfully frustrated. This has gone on for too long,” Mr. Lecce told reporters at Queen’s Park on Thursday.
“Parents are rightfully frustrated. This has gone on for too long,” Mr. Lecce told reporters at Queen’s Park on Thursday.
The strike is predominantly to do with class-size increases in high school, mandatory online courses for high school students, more funding for special-education supports, a seniority program for supply teachers to gain full time teaching positions and protection of the full day kindergarten program and staffing.
The Elementary Teachers’ Union of Ontario won’t be “releasing any information about phase 6 or what any further job action will look like at this time and as such, there is no comment from [president] Sam Hammond,” according to an email statement sent on Thursday.