Talks to avert Ontario high school strike 'not looking good' hours before deadline
OSSTF strike captains are seen meeting in this photo posted to Twitter on Tuesday. (Twitter / @D16OSSTF)
QUEEN'S PARK -- Ontario's public high school teachers have begun preparations for a one-day province-wide strike, even as the negotiators work to carve out a new contract to avert the job action.
Social media images show educators creating "on strike for education" picket signs, holding information sessions for strike captains, and even baking cookies for front-line teachers on the picket lines.
With hours left before the strike deadline the union says the two sides are "still very apart" but both sides seem to be willing to continue bargaining until the 11:59 p.m. deadline.
"We'll keep trying but so far given the government's positions on things are not looking good," Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation President Harvey Bischof told CTV News Toronto Tuesday.
Bischof says the government is not backing away from increasing class sizes in Ontario high schools to an average of 25 students per teacher and introducing two mandatory e-learning courses next September.
The Minister of Education countered today that the government has been reasonable and the only party at the bargaining table that has made concessions.
"For 204 consecutive days, the teachers unions have made no moves at the bargaining table," Minister Stephen Lecce said in the Legislature. "Every single entity at the table must be reasonable."
If the two sides are unable to reach a deal, teachers in all provincial public high schools will walk off the job Wednesday morning, forcing schools to shut their doors.
"All TDSB high schools will be closed to students," TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird said. "All non-striking staff would still have to show up to work."