Elementary teachers strike across Ontario

The Canadian Press

TORONTO–All of Ontario’s public elementary teachers are on strike today, as their union escalates job action amid stalled contract talks.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario has been on a work-to-rule campaign since November and has been staging rotating strikes for the past few weeks.
Today will be their first provincewide strike, followed by a second one planned for Feb. 11.
ETFO had said that it would ramp up its rotating strikes if no deal was reached last Friday, and they are now targeting each board with a one-day strike each week as well as holding a provincewide strike each week.
Union president Sam Hammond has said the union was close to a deal with the government after three days of talks last week, but the province’s negotiators suddenly tabled new proposals at the 11th hour that ETFO couldn’t accept.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce has said the government has put forward “reasonable proposals.”
The two sides were close to an agreement on three or four key issues when the government changed course, Hammond has said, and now there are no new bargaining dates scheduled.
All four major teachers’ unions have been without contracts since Aug. 31, and bargaining is only ongoing with the union representing French teachers. High school teachers have not had talks with the government since Dec. 16, and English Catholic teachers had one day of negotiations Monday after talks broke off last month, but nothing further is scheduled.
All unions are engaged in some form of job action, from work-to-rule campaigns to rotating strikes. Public high school teachers and English Catholic teachers have each held provincewide strikes.