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Elementary teachers hold Ontario-wide strike amid stalled contract talks

Click to play video 'As battle over education heats up, could back to work legislation be on the horizon?' As battle over education heats up, could back to work legislation be on the horizon?
WATCH ABOVE: Nearly a million students were out of class Thursday as elementary teachers hit the picket line and more strikes are planned next week. Travis Dhanraj looks at whether or not back to work legislation is now on the horizon.

TORONTO – All of Ontario’s public elementary teachers are on strike today, as their union escalates job action amid stalled contract talks.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario has been on a work-to-rule campaign since November and has been staging rotating strikes for the past few weeks.

Today will be their first provincewide strike, followed by a second one planned for Feb. 11.

ETFO had said that it would ramp up its rotating strikes if no deal was reached last Friday, and they are now targeting each board with a one-day strike each week as well as holding a provincewide strike each week.

READ MORE: Where are Ontario teachers striking next?

Union president Sam Hammond has said the union was close to a deal with the government after three days of talks last week, but the province’s negotiators suddenly tabled new proposals at the 11th hour that ETFO couldn’t accept.

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Education Minister Stephen Lecce has said the government has put forward “reasonable proposals.”

The two sides were close to an agreement on three or four key issues when the government changed course, Hammond has said, and now there are no new bargaining dates scheduled.

All four major teachers’ unions have been without contracts since Aug. 31, and bargaining is only ongoing with the union representing French teachers. High school teachers have not had talks with the government since Dec. 16, and English Catholic teachers had one day of negotiations Monday after talks broke off last month, but nothing further is scheduled.

All unions are engaged in some form of job action, from work-to-rule campaigns to rotating strikes. Public high school teachers and English Catholic teachers have each held provincewide strikes.

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All 83,000 elementary teachers across Ontario are on strike. Feb 6, 2020.
All 83,000 elementary teachers across Ontario are on strike. Feb 6, 2020. Robbie Ford / Global News
All 83,000 elementary teachers across Ontario are on strike. Feb 6, 2020.
All 83,000 elementary teachers across Ontario are on strike. Feb 6, 2020. Robbie Ford / Global News