Two elementary school boards are challenging the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario before the province’s Labour Board this week.
The Trillium Lakelands and Upper Canada District School Boards contend that it is illegal for the ETFO to instruct its members not to take part in extracurricular activities.
Teachers’ refusals to participate in milk program for elementary students spurred the two school boards to take action.
Howard Goldblatt, the ETFO’s lawyer, said that despite the impact it may have on students, this action is one of the last options for teachers.
“Teachers don’t want to do what they’re doing, there’s no question about that, but sometimes it’s all they have left to do,” said Goldblatt.
Goldblatt also said that the effect of the lack of extracurricular activities may have on the children, is not part of the case brought against the ETFO.
“…I know there are studies. I know there are lots of views expressed with respect to extracurriculars, most at the high school level, but also at the elementary school level. But whatever those studies may say, they’re not in front of the labour board,” he said.
According to the University of Toronto football team’s head coach and manager of football operations, Greg Gary, scouting and recruiting for his team have been largely unaffected.
“I’ll be honest, there hasn’t been any change for this year, really. Most of the 2013 recruits would have been identified two years ago. We start identifying in Grade 10,” Gary said.
He went onto say that players are also observed in the Ontario Varsity Football League, which is unaffected by the strike.
Despite this, Gary said there may still be consequences for athletes who miss out on playing high school sports.
“Where you might lose a player is developmental. A guy that was really coming along and then maybe he didn’t have football at school…so he didn’t develop into the player he would have been,” said Gary.
“We acknowledge that it’s inconvenient for (students) and it’s disappointing for them, it’s disappointing for our members as well,” said Randy Banderbob, executive assistant for the communications and political actions department of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation.
Banderbob said that although there was optimism earlier in the week when Kathleen Wynne became Premier-designate, the two sides still have a significant gap between them.
“Kathleen Wynne says she’s (not going to tear up Bill 115), she’s going to make sure things are done better next time and that’s as far as she’s gone so far and that’s probably not going to be good enough,” he said.