Ford warns teachers not to strike

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Fearing an impending strike by Ontario teachers, Premier Doug Ford warned teachers Tuesday not to “pull this strike nonsense,” with a likely challenging round of bargaining set to start as soon as this month.

Teachers’ unions have been voicing concern over a recent education announcement from the government, which includes larger class sizes for grades four to 12.

It would not have mattered that much to teachers if that change didn’t mean a loss of thousands of teaching jobs, despite the education minister reiterating that no teacher would “involuntarily” lose their job.

Some school boards have written to the minister with concerns that planned increases to class sizes will mean they can offer fewer elective courses, such as in the arts and skilled trades, and the Toronto District School Board has said it will have to account for a $28.7 million shortfall next year because of the province’s changes to education funding.

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Teachers’ and education workers’ contracts expire at the end of August, and the government has signalled its intent to start negotiations as early as April 29.

“I think it’s a pretty good deal that they have right now. They get their three months holidays. They have the best benefit package in the entire country, the best pension in the entire country, the health plan. They have a great gig, if you want to call it (that).

“They do a great job, by the way, and I appreciate all the teachers, but guys, don’t pull this strike nonsense on the parents and on the poor students.”

Boards and teachers have also expressed concerns about Thompson’s announcement that starting in 2020-21, students will be required to take a minimum of four credits out of 30 through e-learning courses.

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It is feared by many that teachers could end up beginning their strike just around the time the next school year kicks off in September. Premier Ford has already made it clear where he stands on the issue and his approach so far suggests he isn’t about to roll over and succumb to union pressure. As for school teachers having the best benefit package in the country which includes a three month holiday, there are more than a few parents out there who will wholeheartedly agree with the premier.

Meanwhile, more than 360 teachers with the PDSB have been informed they would no longer be having permanent positions going into the new school year. 176 elementary and 193 secondary teachers will be impacted. These cuts are attributed to changes in class sizes, cuts in local and other funding. -CINEWS

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