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Here's what you need to know about York Region teachers' strikes next week

Teacher job action will hit Newmarket on Feb. 4, 6, 7
20191204 osstf strike kc
Newmarket High School teachers march along Mulock Drive during Dec. 4, 2019 one-day strike. Kim Champion/NewmarketToday

Elementary and high school teachers in York Region’s Catholic and public school boards are set to hit the picket line in escalating job action that will find local schools shut down for three days in total next week.

Here’s what you need to know about teacher strike action the week of Feb. 3.

Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario - Two one-day strikes on Feb. 6 and 7

While contract talks have restarted between the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the Ontario government, union president Sam Hammond said if central agreements are not reached by today, Jan. 31, it will escalate its provincewide rotating strikes.

Hammond has said that talks must include appropriate funding for special education, a strategy to address classroom violence, maintaining Ontario’s internationally recognized kindergarten program, fair hiring practices, class sizes that meet the needs of elementary students, and compensation that keeps up with inflation.

If a new deal is not struck today, elementary teachers will walk off the job Thursday, Feb. 6 in a provincewide strike and Friday, Feb. 7 in the series of rotating one-day strikes that include York Region District School Board.

Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association - One-day strike on Feb. 4

Bargaining is set to resume Monday, Feb. 3 between the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association and the province, however, the union said its planned provincewide one-day strike on Tuesday, Feb. 4 will still go ahead.

The union’s last bargaining date was Jan. 9.

Next week will mark the second one-day strike that has closed publicly funded Catholic district school boards, including here in York Region.

“Strike action is tough for everyone, but it is a sacrifice we need to make to show the government we will not be deterred in our efforts to protect what we have worked so hard to build,” union president Liz Stuart said. 

Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation - One-day strike on Feb. 4

Contract talks stalled between the government and Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation in December 2019.

Union president Harvey Bischof has offered to postpone pending job actions if the government agrees to return to, and maintain, the class-size ratios and staffing levels that were in place in Ontario schools in 2019.

A one-day strike is planned for Tuesday, Feb. 4 in several Ontario school boards, including York Region District School Board and the York Region Catholic District School Board. 

It marks the union’s seventh one-day walkout since talks broke down.

A limited withdrawal of services that has been in place since November 2019 will continue provincewide.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in a Jan. 30 statement that the union is demanding a $1.5 billion compensation hike, among other things.

“The OSSTF is preventing students from learning and withdrawing critical services, including not completing report cards, EQAO math testing is postponed, and extracurricular activities have been cancelled,” Lecce said.

“These actions are only hurting the students of our province. I urge OSSTF to bring forward reasonable proposals to be bargained at the table that enhance the student experience, not compensation for their members, so we can reach a deal that keeps our students in class."