Tensions between educators and the provincial government have been high over the past few months. Ontario's three largest teachers unions are without contracts, and the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario began work-to-rule action this week. Now, news has broken that an Ontario teachers strike is planned at the high-school level next week.
Earlier on Thursday afternoon, The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) announced its members will strike for one day on Wednesday, December 4 if a new contract cannot be reached before then.
According to the media release, the potential walkout will follow six days of information pickets and a limited withdrawal of administrative services that began on November 26.
OSSTF president Harvey Bischof said these actions have "no impact" on students, but haven't changed the "tone or substance" of negotiations with the province.
"Through months of bargaining, the management team has avoided any meaningful discussion of class sizes, staffing, mandatory e-learning, or any other issue that impacts the quality of student learning," Bischof said in the statement.
"Even in light of our current job action, far too little has changed at the table. We are left with no choice but to intensify our efforts to defend our education system against a government that has already begun to sabotage it."
Breaking News - OSSTF/FEESO Media Release #OSSTF to hold province-wide, one-day walkout #onpoli #onted… https://t.co/705C5VJJJp— OSSTF Communications (@OSSTF Communications) 1574975761.0
Bischof said the union recognizes the walkout will be a "short-term disruption" for students and parents but says they have been forced to up the ante.
"We cannot, however, stand aside and do nothing while the long-term interests of students are being compromised by the Ford government," he said.
Narcity Canada reached out to Education Minister Stephen Lecce for comment, and was provided with an emailed statement.
Lecce called on the union to continue to negotiate, claiming the ministry has made "reasonable offers" by reducing class sizes from 28 to 25 students and reducing mandatory e-learning courses from four to two.
"Strikes hurt kids. Our government has been clear, we want deals that keep students in class," Lecce said in his statement.
Tensions between the union and ministry increased on November 27 when protesters stopped Lecce's vehicle from leaving a school after announcing new anti-bullying measures.
Today, Education Minister Stephen Lecce was confronted by protesters at an anti-bullying announcement in Toronto.… https://t.co/5hMGjas4LV— Toronto Star (@Toronto Star) 1574876791.0
While students may appreciate a short break on "hump day," it remains to be seen if and when an agreement will be reached.
For now, though, parents and high school students should probably prepare for a rather unusual week.
Narcity has also reached out to OSSTF President Bischof.