Every Teachers' Union In Ontario Can Now Legally Strike As Of This Week

It looks like school might be out again.
Ontario Teacher Strikes Could Ramp Up With Every Provincial Union Now Taking Job Action

Students haven't long been back in the classroom after the holiday break, but some may soon be getting even more days off. Tensions between the government and educators remain high as Ontario teacher strikes and other labour-related activities continue. With the addition of French-language educators, all provincial teacher unions will be in a legal strike position later this week.

Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO), the union representing French-language teachers, announced Tuesday it will be a legal strike position on Thursday (Jan. 16).

According to a media release, 97% of AEFO's members voted in favour of strike action in December.

While the group hasn't announced any official strikes, teachers will begin "work-to-rule" actions, which will mostly involve administrative work, this week.

“Our members spoke, and they had much to say: AEFO listened to them and heard their message loud and clear,” union president Rémi Sabourin said in the media release.

And this is just the beginning when it comes to news regarding teacher strikes this week.

Elementary teachers have stopped supervising field trips and other extracurricular activities, and are ready to begin rotating one-day strikes across Ontario if there is no "significant progress" in contraction negotiations by Friday (Jan. 17). 

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Assocation (OECTA) could join them on the picket lines beginning Tuesday, Jan. 21 after negotiations between that union and the government broke down last week.

The union has already begun "work-to-rule" actions and rotating information pickets outside of schools.

OECTA president Liz Stuart told CBC News that one-day strikes were a last resort.

"We have not taken this decision lightly," she said. "It should go without saying that teachers would rather be in the classroom with our students. We also appreciate the difficulties that strike action present for parents and guardians."

Last but not least, Ontario secondary school teachers have announced another round of rotating strikes, continuing walkouts that began back in November.

This week's action will heavily affect the Ottawa area, essentially shutting down all public schools in the city. 

Another effect of this situation includes many schools cancelling EQAO testing scheduled for earlier this month. Students will likely now have to take the test at the end of the school year. 

While each union has specific issues with the government, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce has spoken out against the actions taken by all of them.

At the latest announcement by the AEFO, Lecce called out unions for "hurting students," and urged them to work with the government to settle the disputes. 

"The continued and escalating disruption to learning and educational support is detrimental to the student experience and causes frustration and uncertainty for parents," Lecce said a media release. 

While things may be looking too great at the moment, negotations between all the unions and the government are scheduled to continue. 

So, keep your eyes peeled for more info, because school may be out again soon.

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