One Day Strike By Public High School Teachers Will Also Close Catholic Schools In Simcoe Muskoka

Clerical staff, educational assistants, maintenance staff and others belong to OSSTF

A one-day strike planned for Wednesday by Ontario’s public high school teachers will also impact students who attend Catholic schools in Simcoe Muskoka.

A note was sent home to parents from Brian Beal, Education Director at the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board.

“As you may have already heard through media reports, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) has announced their intention to participate in a one day strike on Wednesday, December 4th. At our board, OSSTF represents educational assistants, designated early childhood educators, office and clerical and maintenance staff. If this strike proceeds as planned, all of the Catholic elementary and secondary schools in the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board will be closed for students and all bussing and before and after programs will be cancelled. We understand that the closure of schools due to strike action is disruptive to families. However, if the strike proceeds on December 4th, the absence of our education support workers would prevent us from ensuring a safe learning environment for our students. We know that negotiations are scheduled throughout the weekend and into early next week and we continue to be hopeful that this one day strike can be averted.”

The head of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation has said the strike will only happen if there isn’t significant progress made at the bargaining table before December 4th.

Public elementary and high school teachers began a work-to-rule campaign this week that is administrative, such as not participating in standardized testing and not putting comments on report cards.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce says the main stumbling block at the bargaining table with OSSTF is wages. The government passed legislation capping wage increases for all public sector workers to one per cent for three years, but the union wants inflationary pressures added in, which would amount to two per cent.

Meanwhile, the threat of a strike at Catholic schools has drawn closer. The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association requested a “no-board” report on Friday, which could take a few days to be issued.

If that happens, teachers would be in a legal strike position 17 days later.

The union says since the government has shown no interest in reversing cuts that impact the classroom, it sees little prospect for further progress in talks.