Mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat has won an endorsement from a union that represents thousands of Ontario elementary school teachers.

The Toronto local of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario announced on Thursday that it will back Keesmaat over incumbent John Tory in the Oct. 22 election, noting that the former chief planner’s values most closely align with those of its members.

“We as teachers every day see the struggles that our families are facing. They struggle for affordable housing, children are arriving to school sometimes with nothing to eat and parents are having difficulty making ends meat while working two jobs. We see parents who are worried about their children walking to school in safety and parents who are scrambling to get their kids to school on a transit system that serves too few and too poorly,” Toronto local president Joy Lachica said during a press conference alongside Keesmaat. “Jennifer Keesmaat understands these issues that families are facing and has a platform to address it. Jennifer also understands the role that schools play in this city.”

In accepting the endorsement on Thursday, Keesmaat said that she is committed to ensuring that “our school lands stay in the hands of communities.”

She also reiterated a promise to build 100,000 new affordable housing units over the next decade.

“Teachers see first-hand the challenges of not building enough affordable housing, of long commutes and the pressure that puts on families and also the challenge when we do not have safe and active routes to school,” she said.