Four unions unite for cross-province walkout
All four unions currently in labour negotiations with the provincial government are planning to walkout of the classroom on the same day.
Members of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA), and the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO) will all strike on Friday, Feb. 21.
“Educators in every school board will not stay silent as the Ford government proceeds to decimate our publicly funded education system,” said ETFO president Sam Hammond. “Our unions and members helped build Ontario’s world-class education system. By not seriously addressing the issues critical to students and student learning, the Ford government has made a sham of contract talks over the last seven months.”
Nearly 200,000 teachers and education workers will strike across 72 school boards, affecting nearly 5,000 schools across the province in protest of the government funding cuts to education.
“It is now evident that the Ford government’s agenda is entirely ideological and not at all concerned with providing quality education,” said OSSTF president Harvey Bischof. “They are pulling resources out of the public education system and, with schemes like mandatory e-learning, laying the groundwork for private interests to profit from our students’ education. We are heartened that so many parents are standing with us against the dismantling of Ontario’s public education system.”
This is the first time since the political protest of 1997 that teachers and education workers from Ontario’s main education affiliates will all be out of their classrooms on the same day.
“We are already seeing the effects of this government’s reckless education cuts,” said OECTA president Liz Stuart. “The Ford government is reducing supports for students with special education needs and mental health issues. It is squeezing students into overcrowded classes and forcing high school students to take e-learning courses. If we allow the government to implement its plan fully, thousands of teaching positions and tens of thousands of course options will be lost.”
A combination of province wide strikes and rotating strikes have caused local elementary schools to close two days last week and the week before.
“It is clear to all four Ontario education unions and our members that the Ford government and Education Minister Lecce care nothing about students or educators and everything about taking money out of the publicly funded education system,” said AEFO President Rémi Sabourin. “To achieve their cuts, they have knowingly thrown students, families, educators and the system into chaos.”