Ontario’s public secondary school teacher’s union is considering “a full withdrawal of services” in seven school districts by the end of April, its president said Saturday.

The school districts that could be affected by possible strike action include three in the GTA: Peel, Durham and Halton, according to Paul Elliott, who broke the news during his annual address to Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation members in Toronto.

Catholic high schools would not be affected.

Peel District School Board responded to the president’s speech by issuing a statement that said they understand this will cause “anxiety” for parents, students and staff.

“As a board, we remain committed to reaching fair, negotiated agreements and avoiding any disruption to student learning,” the statement said.

At issue for the union are demands for improved working conditions and compensation, according to Elliot.

Bargaining has so far been unsatisfactory, he said.

“Everything they have proposed, from the removal of class-size caps to less prep time to more supervision time … serves only to limit our meaningful face-time with students and further erodes the professionalism of what we do,” he said.

“The clock is ticking, and our patience is wearing thin,” he added. “And with every tick of that clock, these seven districts are moving closer to a full withdrawal of services by the end of April at the very latest.”

According to Peel District School Board, central bargaining has been taking place between the province, unions and the Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA), which represents public school boards provincially. Meanwhile, bargaining on local issues has also taken place.

According to Peel, the OSSTF filed for local conciliation with the Ministry of Labour for both secondary teachers and secondary occasional teachers in February. Conciliation is required by law before a strike or lockout can take place.

“At this point, we do not know why Peel was chosen as one of the boards OSSTF has gone into conciliation with -- we believe our local bargaining had been progressing well,” the board said.

“Strike action may include withdrawal from specific activities, such as staff meetings or after-school activities, but may be as broad as a full walkout.”

An Ontario government spokesperson told CTV Toronto's Naomi Parness Saturday that the government "remains focused on achieving a negotiated settlement."

The seven school boards Elliot noted in Saturday’s speech are:

  • Durham District School Board
  • Halton District School Board
  • Lakehead District School Board
  • Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
  • Rainbow District School Board
  • Waterloo Region District School Board