Catholic school teachers hold one day strike

Published On January 21, 2020 | By Galvin Zaldivar | News
OSSTF and OECTA members and supporters gathered outside Doug Ford’s constituency office to protest his government’s education cuts. )twitter/@HarveyBischof)
Galvin Zaldivar

Catholic teachers have gone on strike for the first time in over 20 years.

Teachers and supporters were back Tuesday outside of Premier Doug Ford’s Etobicoke-North constituency office, protesting against his government’s education plans.

This time the picket lines were manned by the Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation (OSSTF) and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA).

The Ford Government has proposed lifting the cap on class sizes, and for the introduction of mandatory e-learning.

“There’s no evidence to demonstrate that mandatory e-learning is productive for students and yet they want to go down that path,” Bischof said. “It’s the start of privatization of our excellent publicly funded education system.”

Lifting the cap on class sizes will not only lead to the loss of thousands of teaching positions but also of course options, he said.

“We’ve seen students already this year, who couldn’t get courses they needed even to graduate,” Bischof said.

As part of their ongoing opposition to these policies, all four of Ontario public teachers’ unions, OSSTF, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), OECTA and the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO), have committed to continue some form of job action until the government returns to the bargaining table.

Negotiations have reached an impasse when the unions were told by the government’s negotiating team did they did not have a mandate for an agreement “that does include signficant cuts,” according to a statement handed out by OECTA Tuesday.

Stephen Lecce, Ontario’s minister of education, said on Monday that the government is waiting for the mediator to call the parties back to the table.

“I continue to believe that there is a pathway to get a deal at the table,” he said speaking to reporters on Monday, blaming the unions for the lack of negotiations

Bischof said Lecce is blaming everyone but the actual root of the problem.

“It’s an agenda of cuts to [the] quality of education, cuts to the professional attention that students need in order to succeed and they need to recognize that the blame for that lies at their feet,” Bischof said.

Both Ford and Stephen Lecce, the minister of education, have made the case that the unions are concerned about their pay, which Bischof and the unions have said are false and are beneath the offices they hold.

“Fact is my members are out here giving up pay in order to defend [the] quality of education and that tells you that what Ford thinks are their priorities are completely backwards,” he said.

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