Brampton safe from school closures next week

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Today, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) announced one-day strikes in some Ontario school boards which will take place next week on Wednesday, December 18, 2019.

After months of difficult negotiations between teachers’ unions and the province, this upcoming strike follows two recent one-day strikes that took place on Dec 4 and 11 after the two sides failed to reach an agreement.

A limited withdrawal of services (or work to rule), which commenced on Nov. 26, 2019, will also continue across schools in the province.

“Since our last bargaining date on Tuesday, December 3, we have seen no change in the Minister of Education’s agenda of increasing class sizes, forcing e-learning on our high school students, and continuing the funding cuts that take valuable support staff and services out of our schools,” said OSSTF/FEESO President Harvey Bischof.

“We’re obligated to provide five days of notice in advance of any work action, and that is what we are doing today. We are hopeful that the Minister is ready to get serious about bargaining next week, to come to the table in good faith and reverse his government’s devastating cuts to our students’ education system. That’s what this fight is about, what it has always been about; this government’s cuts to education will affect our students for not just one day, but for generations to come,” he said.

Peel District School Board schools will not be impacted by this potential strike and will all be open to students on Dec. 18, 2019. They will not be engaged in a full withdrawal of service on this day and OSSTF members will be continuing their current job action.

The following boards will be on a one-day strike on December 18, 2019, according to OSSTF’s announcement.

- Lakehead District School Board
- Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board
- Lambton Kent District School Board
- Thames Valley District School Board
- Waterloo Region District School Board
- Waterloo Catholic District School Board
- York Region District School Board
- York Catholic District School Board
- Halton District School Board
- Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board

The province has spoken out against the one-day strike and insists teachers are looking for billions of dollars in salary increases. 

OSSTF union leadership have made clear that they will continue to take job action--which hurts students most--unless taxpayers accept their demand of $7 billion in enhancements to salaries, benefits, and other entitlements,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, in a Dec. 13 statement. 

If there were any question that this wasn’t about salary, those doubts were put to bed when the four teacher unions launched their challenge to legislation that deals with compensation increases for the public service. We have made a reasonable offer on compensation - a $750 million increase in compensation for the second-highest-paid educators in the country.”

Lecce says the province is calling on OSSTF to cease from continued job action, accept its offer of private mediation, stay at the table, and “focus on improving learning in the classroom, not enhancing compensation for their members.”

Teachers’ unions insist the strikes are not about salary increases, but about combating increased class sizes, mandatory e-learning and violence in schools. 

OSSTF-represented teachers and staff in the French Catholic and French public school boards that serve Toronto and most of the Greater Golden Horseshoe -- Conseil Scolaire Viamonde and Conseil scolaire de district catholique MonAvenir, will also be on strike on December 18, 2019.

“We hope that the Ford government is ready to negotiate a fair deal. A deal that is good for students, good for education workers, good for teachers, and good for our province. But if not, we’re ready to fight for their future, and we will use every tool available to us to do so,” concluded Bischof.

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