Ontario elementary teachers say more strike actions coming Thursday
Striking teachers of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation walk the picket line outside of Northern Secondary School in Toronto, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
TORONTO -- The union representing Ontario's elementary school teachers announced four more school boards will shut down on a fourth day of rotating strikes on Thursday, and say there are still no bargaining talks scheduled.
The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario said Saturday that the one-day strike on Thursday will take place at the Avon-Maitland, Halton, Niagara and Lakehead school boards.
Similar strikes have already been announced at the Toronto, York and Ottawa-Carleton school boards on Monday, and at Grand Erie, Trillium Lakelands, Renfrew and Superior-Greenstone on Tuesday. Schools in the Thames Valley, Rainbow and Rainy River will strike on Wednesday.
ETFO President Sam Hammond said they still haven't heard back from the government after tabling their last proposal in December, and said there are no new talks scheduled with Premier Doug Ford's government.
"We have no choice but to commence rotating strikes starting this Monday as our only means of forcing the government to get serious about negotiations and the future of public education," said Hammond in a press release.
All four major teachers' unions are taking legal job actions as negotiations with the provincial government appear to have stalled. Only the union representing Ontario's French system teachers has bargaining dates scheduled with the government.
The ETFO has said the major issues they're fighting for are smaller classroom sizes, more resources for students with special needs, protection of their current Kindergarten program and fair compensation for teachers.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce has said that compensation remains the main sticking point and criticized the escalation of job action on Saturday. The government is trying to cap wage increases at one per cent.
"It is unacceptable that ETFO would ramp up strike action and make families across the province scramble for childcare," said Lecce in a statement.
Lecce has said the province is willing to return to talks with the unions provided they show a willingness to compromise.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education says over 100,000 parents have signed up for their Support for Parents program, which compensates parents with children up to Grade 7 for childcare costs incurred during strikes.
On Friday, the president of the union for Ontario's secondary school teachers said their one-day strike on Tuesday will be the last during the high school exams period.
Ontario's English Catholic teachers also plan to hold one-day strikes on Tuesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2020.