Ont. elementary teachers likely to strike Monday, union VP says

Published On January 17, 2020 | By Patrick Simpson | Headlines, News, Politics
Elementary teachers could be following High school and English-Catholic teachers in possible strike next week. (Twitter/@OSSTF)

Patrick Simpson

With a province wide teachers’ strike looming for Monday, the Toronto branch of the elementary teachers’ union says they’re more than likely heading towards a walk-out next week.

On Friday morning, the Toronto Vice President of the elementary teachers’ union told Humber News that it was unlikely the provincial government would come to the negotiation table before the Friday afternoon deadline.

IN DEPTH: A TIMELINE OF THE TEACHER DISPUTE

Yolanda B’Dacy, VP of Elementary Teachers Toronto, said teachers in the city are almost certain to be out of classes and on strike next week.

“If necessary, we will strike because it seems it’s the only thing that’s going to push this government to do what they need to do.”

Yolanda B’Dacy

“To think that they will have everything resolved by today is really unlikely,” B’Dacy said in an interview.

“Considering we have been trying to negotiate with this government for months and they’ve only been at the table – I think – 14 times, and in that they’ll only discuss anything for maybe half an hour at a time, it’s not likely,” she said.

Over the course of several months, the Ontario government and teachers’ unions have failed to come to equal terms in discussions regarding class sizes, wage caps and mandatory online classes, among other things.

B’Dacy said the problem the unions have been facing has been a lack of communication between the Ontario government and the teachers’ unions.

“I would like them to understand the fact that not coming to the table, not offering any solutions,” she said, adding that “it’s not even as if there’s an impasse and they’re just not agreeing” on issues.

“They’re just not having any conversations,” she said.

If elementary teachers go on strike next week, that would mean a third teachers’ union would be engaging in walk-outs next week.

Already, public high school and English-Catholic teachers in the province have announced plans for a Jan. 21 walk-out in school boards across Ontario.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce on Friday had yet to release a statement regarding the elementary teachers decision to move ahead with a walk-out next week.

However, in a Jan. 11 statement, Lecce called on the unions to ramp down the rising job action tensions.

“Students across the province are being hurt by union-led escalation. The continued and escalating disruption to learning and educational support is detrimental to the student experience and causes frustration and uncertainty for parents,” he said.

“Parents and students have seen this type of job action every few years for decades. That is why we are calling on the teachers’ unions to cease escalation, stop playing with students’ futures, and focus on reaching a deal that keeps our students in the classroom where they belong.”

For elementary teachers in the province, D’Bacy said that going on strike may be the only way to get the government’s attention.

“If necessary, we will strike because it seems it’s the only thing that’s going to push this government to do what they need to do.”

B’Dacy took issue with the Ontario government’s plan to offer parents up to $60 to cover expenses if job action happens.

Lecce announced the compensation plan on Wednesday.

“I think it’s disgusting, I think it smacks of desperation. And I’m pleased to see that parents again, are not taking it. It really shows how out of tune he is with parents’ desires, but plus the realities in Toronto.”

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Patrick Simpson

Reporter at Humber News in Toronto.

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