Ontario’s four big teachers’ unions have filed a legal challenge over the province’s plan to reopen schools.
Unions representing many of the province’s educators are filing charges with the Ontario Labour Relations Board saying the government has failed to adequately respond to health and safety concerns. However, the appeals to the Labour Ministry are not expected to alter the plans to return to school in September.
“The unions issued a request to the Minister of Labour that orders be made requiring the Ministry of Education to set standards around physical distancing, cohorting, ventilation, and transportation,” reads a joint statement issued by the four unions, Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, and the Association Des Enseignantes et Des Enseignants Franco-Ontariens.
Premier Doug Ford responded to these legal challenges with a plea for cooperation. “I’m begging now for the teachers’ unions to work with us,” said Ford Monday afternoon. “I just can’t understand. We’ve worked with every organization, every labour organization, every single group in the entire country, at all different political stripes. And every single one, 99.9 percent of everyone is getting along. Except there’s one group. It’s the teachers’ union. Why?”
Ford pointed out his government has committed $1.6 billion to education, more than anywhere else in Canada. Ontario’s medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, has also attested that the provincial reopening plan is a safe one.