Dec 03, 2019

By Jane Brown

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Negotiations continue on Tuesday to try and get Ontario’s public high school teachers a new contract. But if a deal isn’t reached today, teachers are set to walk out on a one day strike on Wednesday.

Representatives with the OSSTF and the Ford government are set to sit down at the Sheraton Centre on Queen Street but everyone involved is expressing frustration with the lack of progress in the talks.

Federation President Harvey Bischof says his members have the backing of parents in trying to keep class sizes from increasing and reducing the number of e-learning courses to zero.

“We found out on Sunday unequivocally with the release of data from the government consultations that parents don’t want the direction that the Ford government is going in, they’re not interested. They don’t support larger class sizes, they don’t support mandatory e-learning. So, we know there will be disruption but the long term disruption that this government will cause to the school system and students’ education if this is allowed to continue will be much worse than just this one day,” Bischof explained.

If high school teachers walk out Wednesday, it would be the first such labour action by the OSSTF in more than two decades.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said Monday night, government negotiators remain committed to getting a deal and keeping students in class.

“The parents of this province deserve to have predictability and on Wednesday we’ll be working very hard through the night, today, tomorrow and thereafter to demonstrate to unions that strikes hurt kids and fundamentally they should be working with all parties to get a good enduring deal that ends the cyclical reality, the punishing reality of kids being out of class or the assertion that they may be out of class every three years,” Lecce detailed.

Lecce says a key issue at the table is salaries, with the OSSTF seeking annual raises of 2 percent, while provincial legislation caps pay boosts at one percent.

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