A union representing Ontario elementary school teachers is advising its members to continue withdrawing from extracurricular activities in light of the province’s controversial decision to impose contracts on tens of thousands of teachers without one.

In a newsletter sent to members and obtained by CP24, the Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario urges teachers to send a message to the provincial government by pushing the “pause button” on voluntary activities.

The memo, which is dated Jan. 4, comes two days after Education Minister Laurel Broten forced two-year contracts that freeze pay and eliminate the banking of sick days on 126,000 public school teachers and support workers.

“Given the actions of the government, members will continue to focus only on the direct instruction of students and ensure student safety. It has always been the position of the federation that participation in extracurricular and other non-instructional activities is voluntary,” the newsletter states. “There are times when it is both appropriate and necessary to withdraw from voluntary activities. We believe that these are such times.”

There have been widespread reports of teachers refusing to participate in extracurricular activities since the government passed legislation earlier this fall that allowed them to impose contracts upon teachers and support workers without one as of Jan. 1.

On Friday Premier Dalton McGuinty asked ETFO President Sam Hammond and Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation President Ken Coran to fully restore extracurricular activities in public schools, however it would appear his plea fell on deaf ears.

“Given what has occurred, it cannot be business as usual in public elementary schools,” the newsletter states. “A lack of a response will mean that members are prepared to accept both the loss of their democratic right to free collective bargaining and a much greater penalty than that imposed, or threatened, on any other public sector worker.”

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