TORONTO — Schools in several boards across the province will be closed today, as the union representing high school teachers stages a one-day strike.
It is the latest in the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation’s series of rotating strikes during a contentious round of bargaining with the province.
President Harvey Bischof says he would call off the strike if the government agreed to return to last year’s class size levels, but Education Minister Stephen Lecce rejected the offer.
Teachers were angered when the government announced that average high school class sizes would jump from 22 to 28 and four e-learning courses would be mandatory for graduation.
The government has since scaled back those increases, to a 25 class size average and two e-learning courses, but the union says that’s not good enough.
Lecce has repeatedly said the key sticking point is compensation, with the union demanding a roughly two-per-cent wage increase, and the government offering one per cent.
Wednesday’s one-day strike targets eight school boards, and because OSSTF represents education workers and support staff in elementary schools in some boards, both elementary and high schools will be closed in three boards: Algoma District School Board, Greater Essex County District School Board, and Avon Maitland District School Board.
High schools will be closed in Peel District School Board, the District School Board of Niagara, Limestone District School Board and Renfrew Country District School Board.
All schools will remain open in the Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board, as their OSSTF members are 25 noon-hour aides.
The union, which represents 60,000 teachers and education workers, began one-day walkouts on Dec. 4 with a job action that closed schools across the province. It has followed up with weekly rotating strikes that have closed all secondary schools and some elementary schools at the impacted boards.
In December, a government-appointed mediator called off negotiations between the province and the union saying the parties remained too far apart. No further dates are scheduled.