Elementary school teachers in parts of northern Ontario and the Stratford area will walk off the job Monday in what is expected to be the first in a wave of one-day labour protests.

Members of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario voted 92 per cent in favour of the one-day protests in an online vote earlier this week and officials with both the Avon Maitland District School Board and the District School Board Ontario North East have now confirmed that their boards will be the first ones affected.

A total of 59 schools – 35 in Avon Maitland District School Board and 24 in the District School Board Ontario North East – will be closed as a result on Monday.

“The board apologizes for the interruption to student achievement on this day,” a press release from the District School Board Ontario North East states. “Our elementary schools will reopen the following day and lessons for student achievement will continue.”

The one-day demonstrations are being held to protest Bill 115, which freezes teacher wages and allows the provincial government to impose agreements should the school boards and union locals not be able to negotiate a satisfactory deal.

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Education Minister Laurel Broten said the government is considering its options in light of the one-day strike announcement and will provide an update Thursday.

"I understand that notice has been given to the Avon Maitland and Ontario North East District School Boards by ETFO locals for a one-day strike on Monday, Dec. 10,” she said. “I understand parents are concerned about the impact of this on their families. I am taking the time to consider all the options available to our government and will be provide an update tomorrow morning to parents in these two communities. I know that parents hope that the ETFO leadership will reconsider this unnecessary action and that they will focus on putting students first."

EFTO President Sam Hammond has previously told members that the protests will send a strong message to the provincial government.

“The results of this vote show the determination of all ETFO members across the province to do whatever is necessary to protect our fundamental rights and our collective agreements,” Hammond wrote in the memo that was obtained by CP24. “This sends a strong message to the minister of education - she may think she can mislead the public - however, she will never intimidate ETFO members who are ready to lead the fight against Bill 115.”

The date and locations of other one-day strikes have not been confirmed.

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