Ontario public high school teachers to hold one-day strike on Wednesday, Dec. 4

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TORONTO — Ontario’s public high school teachers plan to walk off the job for a day on Wednesday in a bid to turn up the pressure during tense labour negotiations with the provincial government.

Harvey Bischof, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, announced Thursday that the one-day strike set for Dec. 4 will only be called if significant progress isn’t made at the bargaining table before that date.

Bischof said the government is still trying to impose mandatory e-learning, larger class sizes and other measures that would degrade the quality of education in the province.

“The erosion of education is happening now,” he said. “We can’t wait any longer for this to continue. We have been driven to this action.”

Education Minister Stephen Lecce noted that the announcement of a strike comes just two days after high school teachers started a work-to-rule campaign.

“Strikes hurt kids,” he said. “For teacher unions to leave the table, to turn their back on our children, and to escalate to the point of compromising their education, is deeply troubling for parents and our government.”

The union said they did not leave the table, and Lecce later said additional bargaining dates have been offered, but haven’t yet been accepted.

The main issue is compensation, Lecce said. The government recently passed legislation capping wage increases for all public sector workers at one per cent for three years, but the union is asking for inflationary increases, which would amount to about two per cent.

If that increase is applied across all teachers, it would amount to $1.5 billion, Lecce said.

“Educators in Ontario are the second-highest remunerated in the country,” he said. “We pay them well and we value their work. But they’re asking for a $1.5-billion increase and we’re offering a $750-million increase.”

Premier Doug Ford said he has confidence that Lecce can reach a deal with the teachers.

“We’re doing everything we can to strike a deal and I think we’ve shown good faith,” the premier said.

Public high school and elementary teachers started an administrative work-to-rule campaign on Tuesday that includes not putting comments on report cards, not participating in standardized testing and not attending certain meetings.

Ontario’s four major teachers’ unions, which have been trying to ink new labour deals since previous contracts expired on Aug. 31., have all expressed frustration with what they say has been a lack of progress at the bargaining table.

The Catholic teachers’ union has talks scheduled Friday involving a conciliator, while French teachers will hold strike votes next month.

High school teachers say their main issues at the table include larger class sizes and new mandatory online learning classes. The government has partially walked back both contentious proposals, but Bischof has said that will just leave the education system “somewhat worse” instead of “much worse.”

The government announced in the spring that it was increasing average high school class sizes from 22 to 28 over four years and requiring four online credits to graduate. In recent weeks, it has offered a class-size increase to 25 instead, and dropped the e-learning requirement to two courses.

But the teachers don’t want any mandatory online courses or any class size increases. They note that the government’s offer of increasing class sizes to the lower target of 25 would also mean local class size limits are removed, essentially allowing the province to see the number of students per class climb indefinitely.

— With files from Nicole Thompson

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press

41 COMMENTS

    • That’s just the one sided lie the union advertising sells you. FORD is evil……….yet the only ones who have ever hindered your kids educations are the teachers unions. With regularity.

  1. A melting pot of needs in schools with inclusion, integration, immigration, various needs and autism. There is a huge varied population of kids. Elementary to high school. So faculty staff all work to keep kids safe and able to learn and gain inclusion with each other. It takes a village!!! People have no idea what variables are coming into play.. Ohh Canada 🇨🇦 we need to stick out the fight for what is right.

  2. Teachers are only doing their jobs for the kids… until they can use them as a bargaining chip. Then it’s 🖕🏻 the kids and it’s all about them. If they really cared they’d negotiate their contract during the summer when they didn’t use the kids as leverage. 🤷🏻‍♂️

    • Derek Lendrum What do you do for a living? Do you take your job home with you… that person who comes in sobbing because of a horrible home life, the preparations for the next day, or the endless reports you fill out tactfully assessing the progress of your coworkers, or the trying to control and get through to 25 or more smart ass teenagers who don’t want to be there while inspiring the few who are eager to learn. Before you badmouth anyone, I dare you to spend a week walking in their shoes!!!

    • Chris Michaud what makes you think the unions can’t negotiate a contract in the summer? It’s called leverage. They use the kids as leverage. Get a clue 🤦🏻‍♂️ That’s how unions work. It’s how they’ve always worked. And public unions are the worst. At least when a private union does it they’re only holding the company hostage.

    • I agree it is all about them and if it was for the children they would strike over the summer months and the parents should be protesting the class size and other assistance programs that have been canceled
      Also if they don’t like there job just like most of us resigning is a good option
      There are many young teachers waiting for an opening now would be a good time!

  3. TIME TO RANT!!!
    Before all you keyboard jockeys start whinning about the teachers going on strike, learn your facts. They are fighting for your kids and their right to a proper education.
    Teachers didn’t even ask for money in this contract. The Union is going for more money.
    The teachers are going after the provincial government for better classroom support and to get more funding for classroom that Ford cut this past year, like more EAs and behavioural assistance as well as smaller class sizes so your kids have more one on one time.
    I have lots of teacher friends and family that have told me what they are fighting for!

    Before you go start shooting your mouths off, maybe you should ask your kids teachers or a family member or friend that is a teacher and find out facts.
    End rant.

  4. What about the children? Strikes are destructive. Except to the teachers, who could care less about the children. Typical Lib mantra. Selfish teachers. Oh Canada what are you doing?……….sad

    • yeah because people want to be on strike and take home only strike pay which is only like 10% of their actual pay before Christmas. The fact that they were negotiating for weeks, and then the government went to them oh, by the way we are passing a law that says you only get 1% wage increase max (Despite all the increases we gave our selves) has nothing to do with the bad faith bargaining the gov has done. (and no, I am not a teacher)

    • Charles, maybe you should come and ask teacher what they are actually fighting for instead of sitting behind your keyboard and ranting about the children!
      The teachers are fighting for our children for a better education.

    • Charles Bergman you have no idea how much teachers care! Who are you to judge? As a teacher I worked till all hours at home after school getting papers marked, doing lesson plans, worrying about how to get to some student who was having difficulty….working on night classes to improve my abilities….then getting crap from a parent like you.

    • Dorothy, not to mention fighting Ford on his BS cuts this past year and having special needs kids that don’t have the help anymore because they lost all their EAs. Having tantrums and disrupting classes because they can’t control their actions. I feel sorry for the teachers when a special needs child has a melt down and they can’t and don’t have the training to help these poor kids.
      And over crowding classrooms. How is a teacher supposed to teach 40 kids? The classrooms are crowded as they are!

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