NEWS

3 elementary teacher strikes coming to GTA Tuesday

12/14/2012 11:07 EST | Updated 02/13/2013 05:12 EST
Parents in the Greater Toronto Area might have a change in their routines Tuesday as public elementary teachers working for three district school boards will host one-day strikes similar to those that have taken place across Ontario this week.

Teachers at the Toronto District School Board, the Durham District School Board and the Peel District School Board will host a one-day action Tuesday.

TDSB and Durham elementary schools will be closed during the one-day action. It's not clear whether the Peel District School Board will close its schools to students on Tuesday, but classes will not be held.

Further, elementary teachers in Hamilton-Wentworth, Rainy River and James Bay school districts announced one-day strikes for Monday.

Many working parents may have to scramble for child care or arrange time off work in the last school week before the Christmas holidays.

Church opens its doors to kids

To meet the need, the Glenview Presbyterian Church in Toronto has opened its doors to kids whose parents have no other option for Tuesday. Other so-called church “strike camps” have been set up to offer parents a safe place to leave their children when their school shuts down for the day.

“There was a need, and we thought we could respond,” Reverend Derek McLeod told CBC News. “And we’re glad to help. It will be a fun, safe place on a busy day.”

Several parents in York took advantage of the camps when elementary teachers in that region staged one-day strikes on Wednesday.

The strikes are part of an ongoing dispute between the Ontario government and teachers. The government has passed legislation that gives it the power to ban strikes and impose a labour agreement on teachers.

The province’s Liberal government says it needs to hold the line on spending. Teachers union argues the new laws, which are now subject of a court challenge, removes their right to collective bargaining.

Premier Dalton McGuinty has said he will not use the new law to stop the strikes so long as they remain limited to one day.

Not all teachers are convinced the series of province-wide, one-day walkouts are the best way to reach a settlement between teachers and the province.

James Watt, a Grade 7 and 8 teacher at Brookview Middle school in northwest Toronto, said because the one-day strikes are limited to one day, they lack the power to force a resolution.

“I’m not sure what a one-day strike is going to achieve,” he said Friday on CBC's Metro Morning.

“I think a lot of us were eager to strike to get it resolved quick, but what’s the point of striking when you’re given permission? When somebody authorizes your strike … it’s not like you’re taking control.”

The announcements of the new strikes come one day after public elementary teachers at the York District School Board held a one-day action of their own. Later on that day, hundreds of high school students descended on Queen's Park to voice their dissatisfaction at the ongoing labour strife, saying they didn't want their extracurricular activities disrupted.

Teachers at public high schools are not participating in extracurricular activities like coaching and supervising teams and some administrative work.

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