Parents brace for one-day teachers’ strike

Kelly Webster is concerned about the effect of tomorrow’s one-day strike and other teacher job actions on her fifth-grade daughter. (Sarah Taguiam/Toronto Observer)

As Ontario’s education labour dispute reaches its peak this week, East York parents are worried about the impact teacher job action is having on their children’s studies.

“Honestly, I’m really disappointed with the situation, especially for the kids, because they and their schooling are the ones that are most affected,” said Kelly Webster, whose daughter Veronica is in Grade 5 at Chester Elementary School on Gowan Avenue.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), which represents 76,000 elementary public school teachers, is scaling back on extracurriculars and is holding a one-day strike tomorrow, Dec. 18, in both Toronto and Peel — the province’s two most populous boards.

In addition, some East York public schools like Chester Elementary and Westwood Middle School have started cancelling annual events, such as curriculum nights — where parents discuss a teacher’s lesson plan for the year.

The 60,000 members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) have similarly agreed to stop participating in all extracurricular and volunteer activities.

Both unions are protesting against Bill 115, which allows the province to impose a two-year contract on teachers and stop strikes by passing back-to-work legislation, if collective agreements aren’t reached by Dec. 31.

Though sympathetic to the teachers, Webster is also concerned about how the labour situation will affect parents, babysitters and even caregivers.

“We all have to put our lives on hold,” she said.

“Bill 115 is an affront to the fundamental rights not only of educators but of all Ontarians,” said union president Sam Hammond.

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) says it is closely monitoring the situation and is most concerned about the students’ safety.

“We’re currently developing contingency plans,” said a statement from the TDSB in the run-up to tomorrow’s strike.