The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario has announced teachers at major school boards in Toronto, York and Ottawa will “participate in a full withdrawal of services strike” on Monday.
The boards include the Toronto District School Board, the York Region District School Board and the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.
The Designated Early Childhood Educators (DECE’s) at the Toronto Catholic District School Board are also included as part of ETFO and their strike action on Monday, but Kindergarten classes will be open as “school administration and other support staff will provide the appropriate supervision of students.” Teachers at TCDSB are represented by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) union.
“Following this full withdrawal, on Jan. 21, the ETFO members employed by the above boards will return to their regular duties but will continue to participate in the Phase One, Two, Three and Four work-to-rule strike action,” the union said in a statement.
ETFO said its given five days notice to the Ontario government that workers in those boards will walk off the job.
They said the strike will go ahead unless government representatives “get serious” about reaching a deal by Friday.
ETFO has said key issues are more supports for students with special needs, addressing violence in schools and preserving full-day kindergarten. Elementary teachers are also seeking higher wage increases than the government has offered.
Ontario’s Education Minister Stephen Lecce has repeatedly said the key sticking point is compensation, with the union demanding a roughly two per cent wage increase and the government offering one per cent.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) is holding its fifth one-day strike affecting 16 school boards Wednesday. Rotating strikes within public high school boards in Ontario have been going on weekly since December.
Lecce responded to the strike action saying, “We recognize the impact of union escalation on families is real and unions expect hard-working families to bear the cost on the cyclical labour action.”
Lecce announced the government will assist families with child care services during job action.
“Today, I am announcing our government’s plan to offer parents up to $60 per day to offset the costs for child care if strike action closes schools or school-based child care centres,” Lecce said.
“All parents with children up to 12 or Grade 7, in publicly funded schools, are eligible for this support,” Lecce said, adding that children and youth with special needs up to age 21, who are in school, are also eligible for funding.
Children up to the age of six who are not yet enrolled in school but are in school-based child care centres that are closed will also be eligible, Lecce said.
Funding varies between $25 and $60 depending on who is affected.
“Funding will be retroactive for parents to cover costs already incurred due to labour disruptions in the past few months.”
Lecce said the child care credit initiative could cost the government up to $48 million per day.
— With files from The Canadian Press.