Public high school teachers to hold walk-out in Mississauga

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Public secondary school teachers with select school boards—including the Peel District School Board (PDSB)—will be holding a walk-out on Wednesday, Jan. 8 unless a deal is reached. 

Today, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) announced that teachers and education workers represented by the union will take part in another one-day, full withdrawal of services in selected locations across Ontario. 

This walk-out will be another in a series of one-day strikes.

This will be the first time a one-day strike has affected Peel secondary students. 

On the same day, OSSTF members in other school boards will hold information pickets in front of schools, at MPPs' offices, and in other locations throughout the entire province. 

A limited withdrawal of services, which began on November 26, 2019, will continue province-wide. 

All OSSTF members employed by the following school boards will be engaged in the full withdrawal of services on Jan. 8:

* Algoma District School Board

* Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board

* Greater Essex County District School Board

* Avon Maitland District School Board

* Peel District School Board

* District School Board of Niagara

* Limestone District School Board

* Renfrew County District School Board

These French-language schools will also be affected. 

The PDSB says all secondary schools--grades 9 to 12--will be closed to students (unless progress is made in negotiations) and will reopen on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020.

If the strike action occurs, night school will also be cancelled on Jan. 8, as well as co-op placements and Fresh Start.

Students in dual credit programs are to report to their college locations as previously scheduled.

“We will continue to monitor the labour situation and will provide updates to you as they become available. Please consider making alternate arrangements for your teen, if you feel it is required,” the PDSB said in a statement.

Elementary schools--kindergarten to grade 8--will remain open to students. Child care programs in elementary schools and evening permits will continue as usual in secondary schools.

"After more than eight months of negotiations, the Minister of Education is still committed to the Doug Ford agenda of larger class sizes, mandatory e-learning, and the ongoing erosion of crucial supports and services our most vulnerable students rely on for an equitable chance to succeed," said OSSTF President Harvey Bischof in a statement.

"Our job action next Wednesday will affect some school boards for one day, but the Ford government's policies, if we are not able to reverse them, will continue to create chaos in the education system for years to come. Ontario students deserve better, and that is exactly what we're fighting for," Bischof said. 

The newest strike comes after months of unsuccessful negotiations between the province and multiple teachers’ unions. 

The OSSTF and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) are both enforcing job action at this time, which means public school teachers will not participate in EQAO preparation or testing, participate in Board- or Ministry of Education-directed professional development, or participate in unpaid staff meetings outside the scheduled school day. Unions also say report cards could be affected if a bargain is not struck soon. 

At a December 2019 press conference, Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, called the OSSTF’s demands “unacceptable” and said the union is asking for a $1.5 billion compensation increase.

“This is wrong. And I won’t sit idle,” Lecce said on Twitter. 

In an earlier message to its members, OSSTF president Harvey Bischoff wrote that Lecce is incorrectly claiming that compensation is the ‘singular’ impediment to a negotiated agreement “when there are so many quality-of-education issues still unresolved.”

Unions say they’re protesting education cuts, large class sizes, violence in schools and mandatory e-learning courses. 

Negotiations are ongoing.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated from its previous version to reflect information from the PDSB

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