Tempestuous negotiations continue between the Province of Ontario and teachers’ unions, with all the major unions involved in job action in one way or another. Both sides refusing to back down on some key issues including class size, salary, online learning, and special education which has led to a series of one-day strikes and behind-the-scenes administrative action on the part of teachers’ unions.
Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) – public elementary schools
In Simcoe County, the ETFO represents elementary teachers, occasional elementary teachers, and designated early childhood educators within the Simcoe County District School Board and the Penetanguishene Separate School Board. The union is currently in Phase 5 of its strike action, which means members are not participating in any school board or Ministry of Education activities outside the school day, conducting any performance appraisal or evaluation process, going on any newly scheduled field trip, planning assemblies, or participate in any extracurricular activity before or after school.
The ETFO will hold two, one-day strikes next week. The first, on Tuesday, February 11th, will involve all 83,000 members and will impact all public elementary schools across the province including those with the Simcoe County public board and that of Penetanguishene, along with York Region and Trillum Lakelands. This job action will not affect any public high school or any school within the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board.
The second one-day strike by the ETFO is expected to occur on Thursday, February 13th, and will affect school boards in Simcoe County, Penetanguishene, and others including that of York Region and Trillum Lakelands. The one-day strike will not impact public high schools or any school with the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board.
Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) – Catholic elementary and secondary schools
The OECTA represents over 800 elementary teachers and 400 secondary school teachers throughout Simcoe and Muskoka. The union also represents some 400 occasional teachers. Catholic teachers’ union members are in the midst of administrative job action, with further escalation expected February 11th. OECTA members have been told by the union to only undertake scheduled teaching and supervision duties during the regular school day, with no added tasks or assignments outside their prescribed duties. Teachers will continue to participate in extracurricular activities and conduct previously scheduled parent-teacher interviews.
There is currently no plan by the OECTA to hold any job action that would disrupt a student’s school day. The union is required to give five days’ notice. Should the OECTA take any one-day job action, it would affect all elementary and high schools within the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board. OETCA members last held a one-day strike on Tuesday, February 4th.
Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) – public high schools and some Catholic school roles
In Simcoe County and Muskoka, the OSSTF represents high school teachers with the Simcoe County District School Board. It also represents educational assistants, early childhood educators, maintenance staff, and office workers at the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board. Its members are currently participating in information pickets and a limited withdrawal of administrative services. The pickets should not disrupt the regular school day, according to the OSSTF. The limited withdrawal of service entails members not participating in EQAO testing, school board professional activities, unpaid staff meetings outside the regular school day, or providing comments on secondary provincial report cards.
The OSSTF has not announced any upcoming job action that would affect a student’s school day. If another one-day strike were to occur with the OSSTF, it would affect all high schools within Simcoe County public board and all elementary and secondary schools with the Catholic Board. The OSSTF last held a one-day strike affecting this region on January 21st.
Parents are encouraged to register with the Province of Ontario’s Support for Parents program. The fund is expected to compensate parents of elementary school-aged children who are affected by teachers’ union job action.