High school teachers won’t strike but elementary teachers prepared for battle

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Published Aug. 15, 2019 11:29 a.m. ET
Updated Aug. 15, 2019 6:39 p.m. ET
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Ontario’s public high school teachers are ruling out a back-to-school strike this September despite their contracts expiring at the end of this month.

Harvey Bischof, President of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) said teachers “will be at work on the first day of school” even as educators fight drastic changes to the school system implemented by the Progressive Conservative government. 

“In spite of the already serious staffing losses afflicting schools all over Ontario, we will do everything we can to provide students with the best possible education,” Bischof said in a statement.

Collective bargaining between the union and the province has already hit a speed bump with the union asking the Ontario Labour Relations Board to rule on disagreements in the negotiating process. 

“We hope this government sees the value in changing direction before the damage becomes irreversible,” Bischof said.

Meanwhile, the union representing Ontario’s public elementary school teachers is launching new television commercials attacking the Progressive Conservative government and says it’s preparing for a battle with the province. 

Sam Hammond, the president of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO), says the campaign will include “billboards, online ads and radio ads” this fall, highlighting perceived cuts to the public education budget and school boards. 

The commercials show anxious-looking students, some shaking their legs and knocking over school materials in the classroom, as a voiceover slams education funding cuts handed down by the Ford government.

“Stand up to conservative cuts that hurt our kids,” an unidentified female says in a voiceover. 

While Hammond declined to discuss the ongoing contract talks he says the union is prepared to “battle” the government on education funding. 

“We need to be prepared for every outcome,” Hammond told reporters. “If that takes us to a battle, fine.”

“Make no mistake the government is doing the same thing.”

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