TORONTO -- The union representing Ontario elementary school teachers says it plans on escalating job action next week if a deal cannot be reached with the provincial government.

In a statement released on Monday, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) said that all 83,000 of its members will take part in a one-day, province-wide strike on Feb. 6.

The walkout will be sandwiched between back-to-back rotating strikes across various school boards.

“It’s time that the (Doug) Ford government recognized that our public education system is key to the future of this province’s economy. We must have the tools and supports to prepare students to realize their individual aspirations and productively contribute to the economic and social fabric of this province,” ETFO president Sam Hammond said in the statement.

“There is nothing to be gained by Minister (Stephen) Lecce avoiding meaningful and fair contract talks other than further damaging the reputation of the Ford government. Educators and parents are not going to accept the government’s deep cuts to public education that only serve to harm the quality of education for generations to come.”

Hammond said that issues concerning teachers include funding for special education, a strategy to address classroom violence, maintaining kindergarten programs, fair hiring practices, class sizes and compensation.

Teachers strike

On Monday evening, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said that the further strikes are "unacceptable."

“Teacher union leaders once again are breaking their promise to parents as they proceed with a full one-day withdrawal of services, province-wide. The consequences of union-led escalation are real, as families are forced to find childcare on short notice," the minister said in a statement.

"Repeated escalation at the expense of our students, to advance higher compensation, higher wages, and even more generous benefits, is unacceptable for parents and students in our province. We firmly believe students should be in class, which is why we continue to stand ready to negotiate to reach a deal Ontario students deserve.”

The call for escalation of job action comes as elementary school teachers are taking part in a full week of rotating strikes.

Over the weekend, ETFO said that members in Simcoe, Waterloo and Keewatin-Patricia will conduct a one-day strike on Monday, followed by teachers in Kawartha Pine Ridge, Hastings-Prince Edward, Upper Grand, Moosonee and Moose Factory on Tuesday.

Teachers in Greater Essex, Limestone, Near North and Upper Canada will hit the picket lines on Wednesday and ETFO members in Durham, Lambton Kent and Algoma school boards will walk out on Thursday.

Here is a list of school boards impacted by the strikes next week if a deal is not reached by Jan. 31:

  • Feb. 3: Bluewater, Grand Erie, Halton, Ontario North East, Renfrew County, Superior Greenstone and Trillium Lakelands school boards.
  • Feb. 4: Avon Maitland, Durham, Durham Catholic, Hastings-Prince Edward, Lambton Kent, Peel, Rainbow, Thames Valley and Upper Grand school boards and Campbell Children’s School Authority.
  • Feb. 5: Kawartha Pine Ridge, Keewatin-Patricia, Lakehead, Near North, Ottawa-Carleton, Penetanguishene Protestant Separate, Rainy River, Simcoe County and Upper Canada school boards and Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre.
  • Feb: 6: All school boards across Ontario.
  • Feb. 7: Algoma, Greater Essex County, Hamilton-Wentworth, Limestone, Niagara, Toronto, Toronto Catholic, Waterloo and York Region school boards as well as Bloorview, John McGivney Children’s Centre, KidsAbility, Moosonee, Moose Factory and Niagara Peninsula Children’s Centre school authorities.

ETFO’s members include elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals.

Funds for CUPE workers held until deal is reached

The union representing 55,000 school support workers, clerical employees and custodians, who negotiated a contract with the provincial government months ago, said on Monday they have yet to see any of the promised funding.

Speaking to reporters, representatives of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) said that the government agreed to restore $78 million in funding to rehire 1,300 staff across the province.

A spokesperson for the Office of the Ontario Minister of Education said that the funds cannot be released until all education-sector unions have signed new contracts.