What you need to know about Ontario's one-day high school strike
TORONTO -- Ontario public high school teachers at select boards across the province are participating in their second one-day strike of the month.
Negotiations between the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) and the province have stalled, with both sides claiming the other is not bringing any new proposals to the table.
Here's what you need to know about today's job action:
What schools will be closed?
The one-day strike will impact nine school boards, including the Toronto District School Board. Teachers will hold information pickets in front of schools across the province as well as in front of MPP offices.
"Our efforts at the bargaining table and our job actions to this point have yielded virtually no progress," OSSTF President Harvey Bischof said in a statement last week.
"We have no choice but to continue our efforts."
List of school boards that will be affected by the strike:
- Toronto District School Board
- Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board
- Grand Erie District School Board
- Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board
- Near North District School Board
- Rainy River District School Board
- Simcoe County District School Board
- Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board
- Trillium Lakelands District School Board
What about elementary school teachers?
Members of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) have started to ramp up their work-to-rule campaign.
As part of the second phase, teachers will no longer participate in any evaluation processes, prepare bulletin boards, attend meetings outside of the instructional day or purchase supplies on their own time.
A full list of services that will be impacted by the job action is on the ETFO website.
How did we get here?
The main issues on the table include wages, an increase in the average class sizes and mandatory online courses. The strikes, Bischof said, are meant to “draw further attention to this government’s destruction cuts to the education system.”
Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce has continuously called the job action “unacceptable” and called on the union to enter third-party mediation.
“We are being reasonable; we are trying to put students at the centre of this discussion. My message to OSSTF is clear: cancel this needless strike,” he said in the Legislature on Tuesday.
Lecce has continuously brought up compensation as the main issue in the union negotiations, saying that the wage increase would cost taxpayers $1.5 billion.
Bischof told CP24 on Tuesday that the claim is “inflammatory” and false.
“It is simple math. When you take a cost of living adjustment for the members and add it up over three total years you end up at a figure that is around $200 million. The government is clearly aggregating the cost of the entire education sector for whom we don’t negotiate and trying to make us bear the responsibility for that cost,” he said.
Last week Lecce said that the $1.5 billion figure includes a two per cent increase for all education workers in Ontario for at least three years in addition to an increase of benefits of six per cent annually.
The provincial government passed a bill that caps public sector wage increases at one per cent over the next three years, something Bischof said showed the government was not interested in negotiating in good faith.
OSSTF members held a similar one-day strike last week that resulted in school closures across the province. The OSSTF has previously offered to delay the one-day strike in exchange for the lower class sizes, the removal of mandatory classes and a discussion on compensation.