With the provincial government led by Doug Ford and Ontario’s four major teachers’ unions still locked in a labour dispute, there are more strikes planned this week which will impact schools in Grey Bruce.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation will hold a one-day walkout in 16 school boards on Friday, Feb. 28. The Bluewater District School Board is one of those targeted.
The Bluewater District Board says in a statement all of its elementary and secondary schools will close Friday.
In addition to teachers, OSSTF members in the Bluewater District School Board include education workers such as educational assistants, early childhood educators and other professionals.
Minister of Education Stephen Lecce last issued a public statement on negotiations Friday, in response to OSSTF’s announcement of a one-day strike in select boards this week.
Messaging from the Ford government continues to claim teachers’ unions are demanding compensation increases.
"While OSSTF demands a $1.5 billion increase in wages and benefits, we will advance the case for investment in our kids. I'd rather see us reduce classroom sizes or invest further in improving math performance, as opposed to spending over $600 million (sector-wide) on a hike to an already generous benefits plan," Lecce says in a release.
In a release, OSSTF says union president Harvey Bischof has repeated a standing offer to postpone pending job actions if the government agrees to return to, and maintain, the class size ratios and staffing levels that were in place in Ontario schools in 2018-19.
Meantime, there appears to be a glimmer of hope when it comes to talks between Ontario’s English Catholic teachers and the Ford government.
The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association has announced it will suspend rotating strikes that were planned for this week and will resume mediated negotiations with the provincial government Monday.
As a result, the Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board says in a statement all schools will be open and operate on a regular schedule this week.
"The (one-day) strike for Thursday, Feb. 27 has been suspended," says the Bruce-Grey Catholic Board release.
"The administrative job actions will still continue."
In a release, OECTA president Liz Stuart says "we have been assured discussions will continue to be meaningful."
Stuart says if negotiations cease being productive, further strike action will be announced.
Ontario’s French-language teachers’ union will strike again Thursday, Feb. 27. AEFO -- Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens – members in Owen Sound plan to picket outside of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker’s office Thursday, according to AEFO’s webpage.
École catholique Saint-Dominique-Savio in Owen Sound will be impacted by the job action.
The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario has not announced any strikes this week, yet.
ETFO is expected to announce further escalation of its job action Monday if no agreement has been reached prior.
Last Friday, all four of Ontario’s major teachers union held a coordinated, one-day withdrawal of services across the province.