TORONTO — Public high schools in Toronto and several other regions in Ontario will be closed for one day next week as a result of another job action by teachers and education workers who have been without a contract since August.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation — which represents 60,000 educators — said high-schools teachers in nine schools boards in the province would hold a one-day strike on Dec. 11. A similar strike closed all closed all high schools — and many elementary schools — in the province on Wednesday.
Earlier: Education workers strike on Dec. 4 over lack of progress in contract talks with provincial government.
“We absolutely understand that our targeted job actions create a temporary disruption for the students and families affected,” union president Harvey Bischof said in a statement.
“By contrast, the (Premier) Doug Ford agenda, if it is allowed to be implemented, will create long-term disruption for students across the entire education system, and leave publicly funded education in Ontario deeply and permanently damaged.”
The teachers, who are already conducting a work-to-rule campaign, say they are pushing back against the Ford government’s plans to increase class sizes and introduce mandatory e-learning courses — measures Progressive Conservatives say are needed to trim a $7.4-billion budget deficit.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce said Friday the key issue at the bargaining table is compensation, with the province offering a one-per-cent annual wage increase, and the union asking for around two per cent.
Lecce condemned what he called further escalation by the teachers’ union.
“I’m saying that is unacceptable and in-congruent with the priorities of any parent in this province,” he said. “We stand with parents against escalation.”
The minister urged the union to sit down with the government and a third-party mediator in a bid to reach an agreement so students remain in school.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2019.