UPDATE (Jan. 27, 2020): The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario has announced a one-day province-wide strike on Thursday, February 6 if agreements are not reached by the end of the month. This is in addition to rotating strikes across the province next week—meaning many students will be out of class for two days.
UPDATE (Jan. 15, 2:40 p.m. ET): The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario will stage a one-day strike on Monday, Jan. 20 at the Toronto, York Region and Ottawa-Carleton school boards. Ontario secondary school teachers,represented by the OSSTF, will strike in multiple boards on Tuesday, including the TDSB. English Catholic teachers will strike on Tuesday, Jan. 21 at all elementary and secondary Catholic schools across Ontario. All Toronto schools—public and Catholic—will be affected Monday or Tuesday.
Ontario teachers have given the required five-days' notice to school boards in anticipation of rotating teacher strikes—which means that as early as Monday, January 20, some Ontario elementary students may not be able to attend school as teachers fight on behalf of their students and their working conditions. The affected school boards include Ottawa–Carleton District School Board, Toronto District School Board, Toronto Catholic District School Board and York Region District School Board.
What's more, according to Citynews reporter Cynthia Mulligan, Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) president Sam Hammond hinted this morning that there could be a second one-day strike on Tuesday, January 21, presumably at other boards. Hammond said he'd notify parents tomorrow (Thursday, January 16).
In the meantime, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced this morning that the Ford government will reimburse parents of kids up to age 12 for up to $60 a day in childcare costs during a possible strike, which would cost the province $48 million per day. Hammond described this as "absolutely insane," adding that the millions should be invested in students instead.
When asked if he would consider back-to-work legislation, Lecce said it was not the focus of his ministry at this point.
While some parents believe teachers are only looking for salary increases, the ETFO maintains that its most pressing issues include resources for special education, protection of Ontario’s full-day kindergarten program, smaller class sizes, reduction of violent incidents and fair compensation for educators—particularly occasional teachers, early childhood educators, professional support personnel and education support personnel.
“This is a wake-up call for Ford and his Education Minister Stephen Lecce to get serious about negotiating a deal that supports students and educators,” said Hammond in a written statement. “We have been clear that, after five months of no progress at the table, we will commence rotating strikes if a deal is not reached by this Friday. “It is incredible that as of today, no dates for contract talks have been scheduled by Minister Lecce with ETFO. Should no dates be set, it will be crystal clear that this government’s only mandate is to continue with its damaging cuts to public education.”
Talks and negotiations between teachers and the government began in August, with very little progression, and job action has already begun, with many teachers currently in a work-to-rule situation, others in walkouts.
If your baby or toddler’s daycare is located in a school and there’s a strike, you may be wondering if it will close. Answer: It depends on several factors, but there’s a good chance it will stay open. Daycare centres are typically separate entities from the schools in which they are housed. Unless their workers refuse to cross a picket line, they will in many cases remain open. It’s a good idea to speak to your daycare’s supervisor as soon as possible to get their insights on how things might play out.
If you want to keep up with labour developments, here's who to follow:
With files from Louise Brown