Four day elementary school week possible as of Feb. 3 if ETFO and province don't reach agreement

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Muskoka Post Staff

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) will escalate its rotating strikes across the province starting Monday, February 3 if central agreements are not reached by the end of January.

The union is rolling out phase 5 of their strike protocol effective Feb. 3 should an agreement not be reached with the Ford government by Jan. 31.

In phase 5 of strike action teachers will not participate in extracurricular activities at any time and ETFO locals have been instructed to continue their engagement in one-day rotating strikes and a one day full provincial strike each week.

“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. “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.”

According the the union's statement "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.”

“I challenge the minister to send his negotiators back to the table to address these issues because in four months of talks from August through December 2019, his negotiators had no mandate to discuss them," Hammond said.

Two days ago in an interview with a Toronto news outlet Education Minister Stephen Lecce in conversation about Ontario Secondary School Teachers said that when the government is "spending .80 cents to the dollar on compensation in education we are doing our part. We pay our teachers one of the highest in the nation, $92,000 on average for an OSSTF teacher."

He continued to say that many of his friends are teachers and he values their work. However, he argued that if more funding is to be added into the education system Lecce "insists it goes toward students not toward compensation to people who are objectively well paid."

In ETFO's press release the union outlined that if central agreements are not reached by January 31, ETFO will escalate its rotating strikes as follows:

February 3: One-day strikes in Bluewater, Grand Erie, Halton, Ontario North East, Renfrew County, Superior Greenstone and Trillium Lakelands school boards.

February 4: One-day strikes in Avon Maitland, Durham, Durham Catholic, Hastings-Prince Edward, Lambton Kent, Peel, Rainbow, Thames Valley and Upper Grand school boards and Campbell Children’s School Authority.

February 5: One-day strikes in Kawartha Pine Ridge, Keewatin-Patricia, Lakehead, Near North, Ottawa-Carleton, Penetanguishene Protestant Separate, Rainy River, Simcoe County and Upper Canada school boards and Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre.

February 6: One-day strike of all 83,000 ETFO members.

February 7: One-day strikes in Algoma, Greater Essex County, Hamilton-Wentworth, Limestone, Niagara, Toronto, Toronto Catholic, Waterloo and York Region school boards as well as Bloorview, John McGivney Children’s Centre, KidsAbility,Moosonee, Moose Factory and Niagara Peninsula Children’s Centre school authorities.

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