Teachers will be back on the picket lines full-force next week, as the province’s school system will be shut down for a joint oneday strike to protest education cuts. The planned strike, helmed by the province’s four largest unions, will take place tomorrow (Feb. 21), and will impact more than two million students across the province, including students in Peel.
The joint strike is a marked step up for the unions, including the Elementary Teachers’ Foundation (ETFO), Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Foundation (OSSTF), Association des enseignantes et des enseignants francoontariens (AEFO) and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA), who were present in full force in downtown Toronto last week, outside an event where education minister Stephen Lecce was speaking. “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 Wednesday outside the event, hosted by the Canadian Club of Toronto.
Catholic teachers march outside Queen’s Park during a planned demonstration on Feb. 18, 2020. (OECTA) Hundreds of protestors were on-hand outside the event, where Lecce addressed the ongoing issues related to education cuts and its impact on students. “There’s obviously impacts with respect to extracurriculars, and other experiences that undermine their learning experience,” Lecce told a capacity crowd at the Royal York Hotel. “For the coming days and weeks, our aim is to redouble our efforts, but it is to consider private mediation as a means to drive the outcome that the students, parents and teachers of this province want, which is a voluntary settlement that provides predictability for all the parties in this province.” Rotating strikes have impacted schools in Peel over several months, with three of the four unions leading picket lines again this morning as part of a rotating series of strikes. In a statement made on Feb. 6, the Peel District School Board said that they will be monitoring the strike situation and providing further updates as necessary.
“We ask for your ongoing patience and understanding during this legal job action,” the board wrote. “Staff remain committed to the success and wellbeing of your child(ren)… we hope for a swift resolution to the education challenges we are currently facing in Ontario.” The strikes conducted by EFTO are the most recent series of walk-outs, following previous job action by the OSSTF and OECTA late last year. An additional strike is planned by OECTA in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board on Feb. 27 if progress isn’t made towards an agreement.