TORONTO -- Ontario’s public high school teachers will participate in a one-day, province-wide walkout if the union can't reach a deal with the Progressive Conservative government.

Speaking to reporters at a news conference held Thursday afternoon, the president of the Ontario Secondary School Teacher's Federation (OSSTF) said that the Crown brought "absolutely nothing" to the table during the latest bargaining session.

“Not even one single proposal to place on the table even after we had begun a very mild withdrawal of services and some political action," Harvey Bischof said.

Bischof also claimed that ministers said that compensation was "singularly the obstacle to getting a deal," which the union president denied.

Among the issues on the table are wages, average class sizes and mandatory online courses.

"Bear in mind that before bargaining even began, this government unilaterally cut support staff, unilaterally cut services and then they told us the way to get those services back was to try to bargain back," Bischof said. "In other words, they leveraged students’ educational experience at the bargaining table."

Harvey Bischof

Bischof said that if a deal with the province cannot be made by Dec. 4, teachers will walk off the job and return to work the following day.

“This is intended to draw further attention to this government’s destructive cuts to the education system.”

Bischof said that if a deal with the province cannot be made by Dec. 4, teachers will walk off the job and return to work the following day.

“This is intended to draw further attention to this government’s destructive cuts to the education system.”

Following the union’s news conference, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said that he was disappointed in the union’s decision to hold a walkout.

“Fundamentally, the decision point to escalate to remove kids from class for a day or for any point of time is unacceptable,” he said.

stephen lecce

Lecce said that his negotiators have been making “major moves” in trying to reduce class sizes and make changes to e-learning, but have received “no offer” from the union.

“On the days we made reasonable offers—reducing class sizes from 28 to 25 with the provincial average, reducing online classes from five to two—the union on those days decided to escalate. This is wrong and our students deserve better.”

MORE: What parents need to know about the job action

The Ford government passed a bill earlier this month that would cap public sector wage increases to one per cent for the next three years. The teachers’ unions have previously called the cap a “lie to the minister’s claim that he was interested in negotiating in good faith.”

Bischof said on Thursday that his support staff, many of whom have an average salary of $38,000, deserve to keep up with the cost of living. Lecce, on the other hand, said that Ontario teachers are paid “well.”

“Educators in Ontario are the second-highest remunerated in the country, we pay them well and we value their work,” he said, adding a cost of living increase this year would cost taxpayers $1.5 billion, while a one per cent hike would cost roughly half of that.”

The union, along with the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, launched twin work-to-rule campaigns three days ago.

As part of the job action, educators stopped participating in EQAO testing, stopped attending “unpaid” after-school staff meetings and said they would not participate in professional development courses led by the ministry of education.

On Wednesday, union supporters briefly blocked Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s car in protest of government cuts to education and the increase in class sizes.

teachers, protest

Speaking to reporters, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the goal of the government is to “keep kids in the classroom.”

“We are doing everything we can to strike a deal and I think we’ve shown good faith,” he said.

In a statement, NDP education critic Marit Stiles said that the Ford government’s proposals on class sizes and mandatory e-learning have “brought conflict to classrooms.”

“Instead of picking a fight with educators and forcing them to fight to protect public education in Ontario, Doug Ford should listen to parents who say that schools need more caring adults in classrooms, not less,” Stiles said. “Instead of making online courses mandatory, Doug Ford should listen to education experts who say this isn’t the way to improve student learning. It’s not too late for Doug Ford to reverse his harmful cuts and put the best interests of Ontario students and their families first.”

In a statement, the Toronto District School Board said that should there be a walkout on Dec. 4, they "would have no other option but to close all secondary schools to students as there would not be sufficient supervision to ensure their safety."

"This would include all TDSB secondary schools, Adult Day Schools and Secondary Night Schools. Any out-of-school activities (e.g. field trips, sports, etc.) would also be cancelled on that day," the statement reads.

The school board also recommended that parents make alternative arrangements for their children.

The job action escalation only applies to members of the OSSTF.

THE OSSTF represents more than 60,000 public high school teachers, educational assistants, early childhood educators, and school support staff.