Elementary teachers, parents and students from four local schools gathered together to strike on Feb. 7.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) schools within Spadina Avenue and College Street are still marching against Doug Ford’s “cruel cuts to education.”
Teachers said that they had no choice but to strike against cuts that were being made.
“It’s like little scissors cutting away at the system,” picketing teacher Kim Fry said. “So then it’s very brittle. And then you elect a government like Doug Ford, and they take a wrecking ball to a very brittle system, of course, it’s going to start to shatter,”
With a system that is shattering, the hope is to find equity for students but that’s not happening, Fry said.
“It’s never driven about equity, because if it was then we would have the supports there and still have integration. It’s using equity as a justification for making cuts.”
The provincial government passed a law in 2019 to increase the number of students per a class. Classroom sizes could be increased but only if there are enough teachers to provide all students equal amounts of care.
“Everyone should be in the same class, but not if you don’t have adults to work with those students,” says Fry.
Along with teachers, parents and students, University-Rosedale MPPJessica Bell attended the local teacher strike.
She said she’s been getting calls from parents, teachers and students about the class size affecting them negatively.
“I’m hearing stories of high school students who can’t get a seat in the classroom because they literally do not have enough chairs to sit the number of students that need to get into a class,” Bell said..
Another problem is that courses high school students need to apply for post-secondary education are now unavailable to them.
Pre-requisites to programs such as economics, law and computer science, are being cut, Bell said..
As students are affected, so are teachers with their concern over low wages.
“The Ontario government gave every single one of the MPPs a massive pay raise of up to 14 per cent,” says Bell.
However, the government is refusing to give a raise to teachers who are barley making enough for the cost of living.
“It’s very hypocritical to accuse teachers of fighting for wages when the government is literally giving themselves a massive wage increase,” Bell said.
More strikes are going to be held across Ontario unless the government comes to agreement.
“The Ontario government could end this strike anytime they wanted to,” Bell said.