What parents need to know about strike action in Ontario schools
Children are seen playing in a schoolyard. (CTV News Toronto)
QUEEN'S PARK -- With contract talks between teachers' unions and the Progressive Conservative government breaking down, CTV News Toronto has created a handy guide for parents who are concerned about the potential of a strike.
This list will continue to be updated with developments along the way.
Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF)
One-day strike Dec 4. / Work-to-rule
Over 60,000 public high school teachers, educational assistants, early childhood educators, and school support staff who are members of OSSTF launched a one-day province-wide strike on Dec. 4 after negotiations with the provincial government came to a standstill.
Leading up to the strike, the union said they were committed to meeting with the government “24/7” until the bargaining deadline at 11:59 p.m. Dec 3.
The work-to-rule campaign, which began on Nov 26., will continue once students return to school on Dec 5.
Here are some of the services the union said it has withdrawn in the first phase of its campaign:
- Participation in EQAO preparation or testing
- Completion/Submission of Ministry of Education Data Reports
- Participation in School Board Professional Activities that are based on Ministry of Education or School Board Initiatives
- Participation in unpaid staff meetings outside the regular school day
- Providing comments on any secondary provincial report cards
The union says its activities would not impact:
- Student learning
- Scheduled student supervision
- Extra-curricular activities
The union and the government will meet with a Ministry of Labour appointed conciliator to set more bargaining dates and continue negotiating.
Educators are being told not to discuss the strike or any job action with students in the classroom – even if students inquire about the labour negotiations
The union was given a 95 per cent strike mandate from members.
The union has been in contract talks since Sept. 30.
Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO)
After two-and-a-half months of bargaining, Ontario’s 83,000 public elementary school teachers began a work-to-rule campaign on Nov. 26, promising that students' education will not be impacted.
"ETFO members will be withdrawing from Ministry and school board administrative activities," ETFO President Sam Hammond said last week. "Our goal is to turn up the heat on Premier Ford and his education minister, Stephen Lecce."
Here are some of the services the union says has withdrawn in the first phase of its campaign:
- Teachers will not file a progress report, Term 1 report card or the Kindergarten Communication of Learning. Teachers will, instead, give administrators a list of marks for each student with one brief comment
- Teachers will not participate in EQAO testing
- Teachers will not take part in Ministry of Education professional learning outside the instructional day, including government’s new Fundamentals of Math Strategy
- The union promises, however that certain student-related activities will continue, including:
- Focusing on student learning
- Maintaining contact with parents regarding students
- Scheduled supervisory duties, including extra-curricular activities
After two days of bargaining in the final week of November, ETFO said there was “no significant progress” at the bargaining table.
In the absence of a new contract, ETFO members could escalate their work-to-rule campaign at any time. ETFO would be legally obligated to give the government five days’ notice before launching rotating strikes or a full walk-out.
The union received a 98 per cent strike mandate from members in November.
The union has been in contract talks since Sept. 6.
Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA)
No Board Report
After conciliation failed to settle the contract dispute, OECTA requested a “no board” report, which would trigger a 17-day countdown to a legal strike position.
The union representing the province’s 45,000 Catholic school teachers from Kindergarten to Grade 12, claimed the government withdrew proposals from the bargaining table and "dismissed" some of its negotiators during the contentious process.
While progress has been made during negotiations, the union told CTV News Toronto that the government’s class size policies remains a major stumbling block.
OECTA would have to legally give the government five days’ notice before launching either a work-to-rule campaign, rotating strikes of a full walk-out.
In early November the union received a 97.1 per cent strike mandate from its members.
Association des Enseignantes et des enseignants Franco-Ontariens (AEFO)
Taking Strike votes
AEFO, which represents 10,500 educators who work in about 450 schools in Ontario, has been in contract talks with the government since early October.
While the negotiations seem to have been running smoothly, the union recently announced its intention to take strike votes in December to determine whether its members have an appetite to go on strike.
Holding a strike vote is one of several steps required before AEFO members would be in a legal strike position.
The union would first have to file a request with the Ministry of Labour to appoint a conciliator, receive a no-board report from the conciliator and give the government five days’ notice before launching any job action.