More than 4,000 public and Catholic elementary and secondary teachers in the Peterborough area have joined thousands more in a provincial one-day walkout on Friday.
Ontario’s public school teachers are rallying outside Queen’s Park in Toronto as part of the provincewide strike, which means up to two million students are out of class.
In a joint release, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario local for the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board and teachers with the Peterborough, Victoria, Northumberland and Clarington (PVNC) Catholic District School Board, said they’re joining forces Friday to picket at 20 locations.
Shirley Bell, president of the ETFO KPR local, says the provincial government has not been genuine at the bargaining table.
“It is very clear to all our education unions and members that the Ford government cares nothing about students and everything about making cuts to education,” said Bell.
“This government has made a sham of contract talks.”
Erin Leonard, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) District 14, says it’s “shocking” that Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Leece are “unwilling” to negotiate “what is best for students and educators.”
“To achieve their cuts, they have thrown students, families, educators and the system into chaos,” said Leonard.
On Thursday, Lecce criticized the planned provincewide walkout.
“We insist on the best teacher at the front of your child’s classroom,” he said in a Tweet. “We must demand better for our students.”
Kelly McNeely, president of the PVNC local for the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA), said Friday marks the first time since 1997 all members of Ontario’s major education affiliates will be out of their classrooms on the same day.
“Educators will not allow this government to get rid of thousands of teaching positions resulting in the loss of thousands of course options and larger classes,” stated McNeely.
Teachers are planning pickets from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. outside the constituency offices of Conservative MPPs David Smith (Peterborough-Kawartha) in Peterorough, David Piccini (Northumberland-Peterborough South) in Port Hope and Laurie Scott (Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock) in Lindsay.
In Peterborough, teachers will hold pickets outside Holy Cross Secondary, St. Peter’s Secondary, James Strath Public School, Crestwood Secondary, Adam Scott Collegiate and Vocational Institute, Prince of Wales Public School and Lakefield Public School.
In Lindsay, pickets will be held at St. Thomas Aquinas and Lindsay Collegiate and Vocational Institute.
East of Peterborough, pickets are being held at St. Mary’s Secondary in Campbellford and St. Paul’s Elementary in Norwood.
In Northumberland County, teachers are staging strikes at Cobourg Collegiate Institute, East Northumberland Secondary and Brighton Public School in Brighton.
In Clarington District, teachers are gathering in Bowmanville at Clarington Central Secondary, St. Michael’s Elementary and Bowmanville High School.