Scott calls union strike action ‘unacceptable:’ OSSTF says cuts are a worse disruption

By Roderick Benns

Local union leader says plenty of supply teachers; no need to abruptly cancel extracurriculars
One-day strike commenced today in front of MPP Laurie Scott's office, as well as all area schools. Photo: Joli Scheidler-Benns.

Calling today’s strike action “unacceptable,” MPP Laurie Scott says it’s families who are affected most in their struggle to find childcare.

“While parents are understandably frustrated by teacher union escalation every few years, it is unacceptable that union leaders would ramp up strike action and make families across the province scramble for childcare,” she tells the Advocate in an email.

Photo: Joli Scheidler-Benns.

The Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP says she recognizes “the impact of union escalation on families is real, and unions expect hardworking families to bear the costs of their cyclical labour action.”

But Colin Matthew, president of the Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers Federation (OSSTF), district 15, says the PC government “continues to ignore parents who have spoken loudly and consistently that they do not support growing class sizes or mandatory e-learning.”

“They refuse to release the results of their self-proclaimed ‘largest consultation in Ontario’s history,’” he says.

Matthew says the disruption these strikes cause “pales in comparison to the devastation (Premier Doug) Ford’s cuts pose.”

“Ford’s scheme would leave parents scrambling to support students who are not getting individual attention in over stuffed classes and figuring out how to support students through independent e-learning,” he says.

In addition to the OSSTF, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) and Elementary Teachers Federation Ontario (ETFO) are also on strike today.

Scott notes her government launched its ‘support for parents’ initiative that “puts money directly into the pockets of parents,” through a childcare subsidy during the strike action.

“The immense uptake of our (childcare) initiative speaks volumes to the level of uncertainty union-led strike action causes,” says Scott.

The MPP says the government will continue to focus on reaching voluntary agreements with the teachers’ unions, “so Ontario students stay in class where they belong.”

As for Matthew, who was out on the picket line when the Advocate reached him, he says “educators will continue to fight to protect an excellent system of public education from the destructive agenda of this government.”

“If Ms. Scott wants to represent parents it starts by listening to the two thirds of them who have been clear about their support for educators and for public education,” he says.

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