Teachers' strikes to hit most of GTA on Tuesday
Published Friday, December 14, 2012 8:41AM EST
Last Updated Saturday, December 15, 2012 6:49AM EST
In what would be the largest protest yet, teachers’ one-day strikes are expected to be held in Toronto, Durham and Peel on the same day early next week, meaning hundreds of public elementary schools will be closed.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario has not given its 72-hour strike notice, but the Toronto District School Board is telling parents that its elementary school teachers have been informed that a walkout will take place Tuesday.
Teachers are telling Durham District School Board the same thing, said school board Supt. Mark Joel.
The rotating strike is expected to occur in Peel Region on the same day. Officially, Peel District School Board is telling parents it has not received a formal notice of the strike date.
If the strike scenario occurs, hundreds of schools in all three school boards would close because there wouldn't be enough supervision for more than 320,000 students, who would get the day off as thousands of teachers walk the picket line.
As the school boards brace for a strike, parents across the GTA are making child-care plans for when schools close, be it a day off of work to stay home with the kids, day care, a babysitter or something else.
Parents who rely on school-run daycares are asked to check with the facilities to find out if they will be open during the strikes.
In Canada's largest school district, the TDSB, nearly 173,500 elementary and junior high school students will be affected by a walkout by teachers from 474 schools.
In Peel Region, the strike would involve teachers from 202 elementary schools, and it would affect more than 109,000 students.
Durham District School Board has more than 46,000 students in its 108 elementary schools.
York Region teachers held their one-day strike on Thursday. The ETFO has not confirmed a strike date for Halton District School Board.
In an interview with CP24, Education Minister Laurel Broten repeated the Liberal government’s position on the strikes.
Broten assured parents the province will not allow the strikes to go beyond one day.
Union officials have suggested additional strikes may be held, if need be.
Teachers strike in Guelph, Peterborough and Barrie
Meanwhile, public elementary schools in the Guelph, Peterborough and Barrie areas are closed Friday as teachers there stage their strikes to protest Bill 115.
The strikes in the Upper Grand, Kawartha Pine Ridge and Simcoe County school boards are being held on the fifth day of rotating strikes across Ontario.
Next week, teachers are holding walkouts in Hamilton-Wentworth, Rainbow, Rainy River and James Bay school districts on Monday, the ETFO announced Friday morning.
The ETFO is holding the walkouts because of its labour dispute with the province over Bill 115, which imposes a two-year wage freeze and limits collective bargaining rights for teachers and support staff, and gives the provincial government the power to end strikes.
Teachers’ unions are challenging the legislation in court, arguing it is unconstitutional.
The unions have until Dec. 31 to reach collective agreements with local school boards before a new contract is forced upon them.
In their work-to-rule action, teachers have withdrawn from extra-curricular activities and administrative duties.
Premier Dalton McGuinty and Broten have characterized the situation as a dispute over pay.
Broten said the province cannot afford another pay increase for teachers right now because of commitments to all-day kindergarten and small class sizes, and financial constraints.
On Friday, NDP leader Andrea Horwath again put the blame on the government, accusing the McGuinty Liberals of passing Bill 115 in a failed attempt to win a byelection in Kitchener-Waterloo.
Horwath said the government didn't have "mature and thoughtful dialogue" with teachers' unions, and students and parents are now paying the price.
With files from The Canadian Press
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