As expected, Ontario’s public elementary and high school teachers began their start work-to-rule campaigns on Tuesday, justifying this action by complaining just how little progress has been made in their contract talks with the Ontario government.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation say their members will start withdrawing some administrative services, such as putting comments on report cards, attending certain meetings and participating in standardized testing.
“Parents can expect to see absolutely nothing to change in terms of the quality of their children’s learning environment,” said OSSTF president Harvey Bischof.
High school teachers will also be holding information pickets to distribute information to parents, but will not impede access to schools, Bischof said.
OSSTF will continue to be in negotiations, however there is every indication that nothing short of complete reversal of Premier Ford’s cuts will placate union members.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the government has been reasonable in contract talks, scaling back increases to class sizes and mandatory e-learning requirements.
“As evidenced by the voluntarily negotiated agreement with CUPE, I know we can get there through working together in good faith, so that students remain in class,” the Minister said in a statement released late Monday night.
The government announced in the spring that it was increasing average high school class sizes from 22 to 28 over four years and requiring four online credits to graduate. In recent weeks, it has offered a class-size increase to 25 instead and dropped the e-learning requirement to two courses.
“They originally announced that it would be much worse at the end of four years, and now they’re saying it’s only going to be somewhat worse at the end of four years,” Bischof said.
Lecce said if teachers don’t participate in certain professional development activities and don’t put comments on report cards, that will hurt students.
Work to rule means no school board activities on PA days
During the work to rule, high school teachers will not complete ministry data reports nor participate in ministry- or school board-driven professional activities.
During the work to rule, elementary teachers will not take part in any online training by the ministry or school board activities on professional activity (PA) days. They will not respond to any emails from administrators outside of school hours, except if it is about safety, support for students with special needs, or for a supply teacher to accept a job.
Negotiations between the province and the education unions started on tense terms a few months ago, and three of the four major unions have moved toward labour action of some kind.
Parents can expect a teachers’ strike sometime in the new year. -CINEWS