London-area high school teachers to hold rally outside Ontario labour minister’s Strathroy office

Unionized high school teachers in the London area are holding a rally outside the provincial labour minister's Strathroy office on Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

London members of the union representing Ontario high school teachers will be taking their concerns to the office of Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP and Labour Minister Monte McNaughton on Tuesday.

Members of the Thames Valley and Lambton-Kent districts of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) will gather outside McNaughton’s Strathroy office from 3:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Nearly 500 teaching jobs to be lost in London area by 2024: report

The rally comes amid stalled contract talks between the OSSTF and the Ontario government as the province looks to renew teacher contracts that expired at the end of August.

OSSTF District 11 Thames Valley president John Bernans told Global News that education cuts will be top of mind during the rally.

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“[Expanding class sizes] will take out up to 10,000 teachers from classrooms over the next four years,” Bernans said.

A similar number was touted by Ontario’s financial accountability officer, Peter Weltman, however he projected the loss would come over the next five years.

In October, the province walked back plans to expand high school class sizes. Despite the change, a report from the Conference Board of Canada estimated the province would still see a loss of 6,000 teachers over the next five years.

READ MORE: Ontario government walks back plan to expand high school class sizes

Along with the desire to do away with expanded class sizes and education cuts, Bernans added that his fellow union members want the province to place an increased focus on e-learning.

“We think we need to study the issue and implement e-learning in an intelligent way,” Bernans said.

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“We are hoping that people like Mr. McNaughton will speak up in caucus meetings and get this government to change course on education.”

READ MORE: Ontario elementary teachers will be in legal strike position as of Nov. 25

Provincewide strike votes continue for the OSSTF but are set to wrap up on Friday.

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association is set to finish its vote on Wednesday.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario has already voted in favour of strike action and will be in legal strike position as of Nov. 25.

Last month, the Ontario government and the union representing education workers narrowly averted provincewide school closures when a last-minute tentative deal was struck.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees ratified that deal early last week.

Click to play video: 'Elementary teachers in Ontario vote in favour of strike'
Elementary teachers in Ontario vote in favour of strike

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