All WC schools expected to be closed Feb. 21 due to labour unrest

WEST CARLETON – If a deal isn’t reached by Friday, Feb. 21, all four Ontario teachers unions will hold a one-day strike to end next week.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (EFTO), the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF), the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) and Association des Enseignantes et des Enseignants Franco-Ontariens (AEFO) represent nearly 200,000 teachers and education workers and will be out of the classroom next Friday should a deal not be reached with the province.

The strike will affect nearly 5,000 schools across 72 school boards. Ontario teachers have been without a contract since Aug. 31 and months of negotiations have yielded little progress.

AEFO are engaged in labour negotiations today (Feb. 12) with the Ministry of Education. None of the other three unions currently have any scheduled bargaining talks with the government.

Among the key issues that keep stalling negotiations are compensation, class sizes, e-learning, full-day kindergarten, special education funding and teacher hiring.

Unions are asking for wage increases of around two per cent, but the government passed legislation last year capping wage hikes for all public sector workers at one per cent for three years. The teachers’ unions and several others are fighting the law in court, arguing it infringes on collective bargaining rights.

The government has been providing parents with up to $60 for each day their child is out of school due to job action by the teachers’ unions.