Ontario public elementary schools closed by strike
Public elementary schools are closed in Toronto, York and Ottawa-Carlton today because teachers and educational workers are on strike all across Ontario.
Protesters were outside Premier Ford’s office in -15 degree weather advocating for smaller class sizes, fewer cuts to special education and the preservation of all-day kindergarten.
“We have been bargaining with the province and our school board since back in April,” said Nigel Bariffe, Executive Officer of Elementary Teachers of Toronto.
“The contracts that we are looking for is to reduce the class sizes because we know that gives us more time with our students which is good for our students,” said Bariffe.
Earlier this week, Sam Hammond, President of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, said the union had to commence strikes starting Monday in order for the provincial government to get serious about negotiations.
Some parents and teachers affected by the strike have found it difficult to find child care at the last minute.
Many places in Toronto including the Royal Ontario Museum, The Ontario Science Centre and The Toronto Zoo offered extended day camps with prices ranging from $40 – $85 per day.
“It is stressful,” said Kristyn Owers, a parent and elementary school teacher in Toronto.
“My daughter would have preferred to have done other things that her friends are doing but I needed to be here and as a single mother I can’t send her off skiing for the day so she’s got to be in day care,” she said.
Stephen Lecce, Ontario’s minister of education, announced over the weekend that the provincial government will be compensating parents with $25 – $60 per day for children under 12.
Upset parents and teachers took to Twitter calling this a “bribe” and even started a petition against it which already has over 21,000 online signatures.
Lecce said he believes students are “paying the price” for the continuous union escalation.
“I think that’s it’s high time for us to consider that the fact that the teachers unions, leaders have to date escalated and withdrew service and now done multiple one day strikes without considering that option given that it is there,” said Lecce to reporters.
Strikes will rotate in date and location all week and will affect the following school boards:
- Toronto District School Board.
- Simcoe County District School Board.
- Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board.
- Trillium Lakelands District School Board.
- Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board.
- Rainy River District School Board.
- Near North District School Board.
- Grand Erie District School Board.
- Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board.