Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, issued the following statement in response to today’s strike action by the four teachers’ unions (OSSTF, ETFO, OECTA, AEFO):
“Your child should be in class; they should not be the casualty of union-led escalation. The focus of union leaders ought to be on negotiating a deal that keeps students in class. Our government will remain squarely focused on providing stability to students who face escalation by teacher unions far too often throughout their educational journey. We have demonstrated this focus on students during the negotiation process, by advancing educational priorities that matter: merit-based hiring, enhanced investments in student priorities and special education over union demands for more generous wages and benefits and committed – in writing – to protecting all-day kindergarten.
Parents are losing patience with the union-caused disruption in their lives, the inconsistency in their children’s education, and the financial impact of scrambling for alternate care. That is why we will continue to stand with parents and offer financial assistance through the Support for Parents initiative, which is providing financial support directly in the pockets of working parents.
While union leaders are continuing to organize further disruption, our government remains focused on getting deals that ensure students are learning each and every day.”
In a further statement released this afternoon, Minister Lecce added:
“We want a deal that keeps students in class. Strikes by the teachers’ unions have resulted in millions of student days lost. Days where students should have been in class preparing for math tests, practising for hockey games or music competitions, and learning the skills needed to succeed in their educational journey and beyond.
While OSSTF demands a $1.5 billion increase in wages and benefits, we will advance the case for investment in our kids. I’d rather see us reduce classroom sizes or invest further in improving math performance, as opposed to spending over $600 million (sector-wide) on a hike to an already generous benefits plan. With over 80 cents to the dollar spent on compensation and over 60% increase in spending since 2003, taxpayers and parents rightfully expect more and better for our students. We agree.
We have always been ready to meet at the negotiating table to reach a deal that keeps students in class.”