Schools will likely close for York Region's public elementary students for two days next week if their teachers' union is unable to reach a central agreement with the province by the end of January.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has announced a provincewide strike by all 83,000 of its members on Thursday, Feb. 6 and is escalating rotating strikes across the province starting Monday, Feb. 3. In York Region, the additional one-day strike will be held Friday, Feb. 7.
“There is nothing to be gained by Minister (Stephen) Lecce avoiding meaningful and fair contract talks other than further damaging the reputation of the Ford government,” said ETFO president Sam Hammond in a news release. “Educators and parents are not going to accept the government’s deep cuts to public education that only serve to harm the quality of education for generations to come.”
Hammond outlined that "fair" contract talks must include: appropriate funding for special education; a strategy to address classroom violence; maintaining the kindergarten program; fair hiring practices; class sizes that meet the needs of elementary students; and compensation increases that keep up with inflation.
"Teacher union leaders once again are breaking their promise to parents as they proceed with a full one-day withdrawal of services, provincewide. The consequences of union-led escalation are real, as families are forced to find child care on short notice," Education Minister Lecce said in a statement regarding EFTO's further escalation of strike action.
"Repeated escalation at the expense of our students, to advance higher compensation, higher wages, and even more generous benefits is unacceptable for parents and students in our province. We firmly believe students should be in class, which is why we continue to stand ready to negotiate to reach a deal Ontario students deserve."
The union's elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals have been without a contract since last August.