ONTARIO – The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) have demanded that Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce come back to the negotiating table, and are threatening to escalate their job action if the situation is not resolved soon.
“There is nothing to be gained by Minister Lecce avoiding meaningful and fair contract talks other than further damaging the reputation of the Ford government,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond in a press release on Monday, Jan. 27. “Educators and parents are not going to accept the government’s deep cuts to public education that only serve to harm the quality of education for generations to come.”
“From ETFO’s perspective, fair contract talks must include: appropriate funding for Special Education; a strategy to address classroom violence; maintaining our internationally recognized Kindergarten program; fair hiring practices; class sizes that meet the needs of elementary students; and compensation that keeps up with inflation,” Hammond continued.
ETFO states that if an agreement is not reached between themselves, their employers and the province, that they will begin a week of rotating strikes across school boards across Ontario on Feb. 3.
According to the ETFO, the teachers of the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) which operates the public schools in the Cornwall region, would be on strike on Feb. 5, as well as Feb. 6 when all 83,000 ETFO teachers will be on strike.
Minister Lecce released a statement on Monday afternoon in reaction to ETFO’s threatened escalation.
“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,” Lecce’s statement reads. “Repeated escalation at the expense of our students, to advance higher compensation, higher wages, and even more generous benefits, is unacceptable for parents and students in our province. We firmly believe students should be in class, which is why we continue to stand ready to negotiate to reach a deal Ontario students deserve.”