Local education workers participate in province-wide walkout

By Roderick Benns

Local union leader says plenty of supply teachers; no need to abruptly cancel extracurriculars

Tomorrow educators in the City of Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton, and Muskoka will participate in the first province wide strike ever involving members of AEFO, ETFO, OECTA, and OSSTF — all of the education unions in Ontario.

In all about 200 000 educators will be on strike and all public schools in Ontario will be closed for the day. This coordinated action comes as the Ontario Legislature returns from its winter break with no apparent movement on the education front.

Even as polls continue to show widespread public support for educators the government has so far refused to come to the bargaining table “with any meaningful proposals that might resolve the issue,” according to a press release from the OSSTF.

Local OSSTF president Colin Matthew says, “we reject changes to the funding formula that would cause class sizes to balloon and make small, rural schools unviable; we reject any proposal for mandatory e-learning that would put rural and special needs students at particular risk; and we ask the government to bargain in good faith without preconditions that limit our ability to negotiate cost of living for our members.”

On Friday pickets will occur across the regions including in Lindsay at LCVI and at MPP Laurie Scott’s office, in Fenelon Falls and Haliburton in front of the high schools, in Gravenhurst on Muskoka Road S., in Bracebridge at Norm Miller’s Office, and in Huntsville at Pine Glen Public School.

The Ministry of Education has not released a statement in more than a week about this one-day strike.
“Our focus is on keeping students in class, as they deserve better. That is why I am calling on the teachers’ union leaders to accept private mediation today and end this needless escalation,” said education minister Stephen Lecce in a press release.

On previous strike days the public has been incredibly supportive, Matthew said, and the OSSTF encourages concerned citizens to join them on Friday from 9-2 at these sites.

Concerned members of the community are encouraged to contact their MPP and ask the government to return to the table in good faith and parents impacted by the strike can contact their school trustee or parent council, information about which is available from their child’s school.

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