KAWARTHA LAKES-Elementary teachers in the Trillium Lakelands District School Board will hit the picket lines next week on Tuesday February 11th and Thursday the 13th if no agreement is reached in contract talks with the government.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) claims that a deal was within reach last Friday after three days of central bargaining talks until the government changed its position at the eleventh hour.
“ETFO, school board associations and the government were close to an agreement on Friday that would have been good for students, educators and public education. It would have ensured stability in public elementary schools this week,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond. “Then, late that day, the government’s negotiators changed course and tabled impossible options they knew ETFO could not accept.”
Hammond went on to claim the Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce wasn’t even involved in the negotations last week.
“I want to set the record straight,” continued Hammond. “Unlike the Minister of Education, I was at the bargaining table last week so I know what was discussed. Despite what Minister Lecce is claiming, salary was not addressed during those negotiations, and government negotiators did not sign a letter of commitment to maintain the Kindergarten model.”
Kawartha 411 has asked the Ministry of Education for a copy of this “letter of committment” but we have not yet had a response.
Hammond says the government’s position around special education funding remained less than half the priority and special education funding negotiated in 2017. “This funding was of great benefit to vulnerable students.”
Lecce says these strikes hurt kids. “Teacher union leaders once again are breaking their promise to parents as they proceed with a full one-day withdrawal of services, province-wide. The consequences of union-led escalation are real, as families are forced to find child care on short notice.”
Hammond says its the government that’s causing “chaos” in the education system and trying to erode support for the teachers.
“We have to question what the government’s motivation was when it abruptly changed its tactics at the last minute. Rather than ‘keep kids in the classroom’, which Education Minister Stephen Lecce says is his goal, this government is deliberately creating chaos in our education system,” added Hammond.
ETFO represents 83,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals across the province.
ETFO’s rotating strikes next week will occur as follows:
February 10: One-day strikes in Avon Maitland, Durham, Durham Catholic (designated early childhood educators only),Halton, Hastings-Prince Edward, Lambton Kent, Rainbow, Thames Valley, Upper Canada and Upper Grand school boards and Campbell Children’s School Authority.
February 11: One-day strike of all 83,000 ETFO members.
February 12: One-day strikes in Algoma, Greater Essex, Limestone, Niagara, Renfrew County, Toronto, Toronto Catholic (designated early childhood educators only) and Waterloo school boards, Moosonee and Moose Factory District School Authorities and Bloorview, John McGivney Children’s Centre, KidsAbility and Niagara Peninsula Children’s Centre School Authorities.
February 13: One-day strikes in Bluewater, Grand Erie, Hamilton-Wentworth, Keewatin-Patricia, Lakehead, Ontario North East, Ottawa-Carleton, Peel, Penetanguishene, Protestant Separate, Simcoe County, Superior-Greenstone, Trillium Lakelands and York Region School Boards, and Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre.
February 14: One-day strikes in Kawartha Pine Ridge, Near North and Rainy River School Boards.