Teachers’ protest to close schools
Elementary schools with the Rainy River District School Board will be closed tomorrow (Jan. 11) as the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario stages a one-day political protest aimed at the government and education minister for invoking Bill 115.
Because it is not able to provide a safe environment for the students, the board was forced to close its schools tomorrow, with them scheduled to reopen Monday morning.
Busing for elementary students also is cancelled for the day.
Secondary schools will be open, however, with normal busing transportation provided.
As well, the political protest does not affect students attending schools with the Northwest Catholic District School Board.
But as plans for the political protest move forward, Premier Dalton McGuinty said late yesterday he intends to stop the “illegal strike.”
He indicated teachers no longer are in a legal strike position now that the province has imposed new two-year collective agreements.
But the ETFO insisted tomorrow’s action is not a strike but a one-day political protest that’s protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“Our members are standing up to say that democratic values must trump party politics in this province,” ETFO president Sam Hammond said in a press release.
“What happened to educators must not happen to any other Ontarian,” he stressed.
Ninety-two percent of more than 46,000 ETFO members who cast a ballot in December voted in favour of a one-day political protest should the minister impose contracts using Bill 115, which she did Jan. 3.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, meanwhile, has determined it will continue the withholding of voluntary and extra-curricular activities.
That union also has scheduled its own political protest for Jan. 16 “to be held if the government has not repealed Bill 115, rescinded the Order in Council that imposed the OECTA MoU, and restored free collective bargaining by that date.”
The OSSTF political protest will be held locally, and will include picketing at Liberal and Tory MPP offices where possible or at local school board offices.