All Ontario Secondary schools will be closed province wide Wednesday December 4th as part of job action by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF).
The closure affects all students from 14 secondary schools in Brantford, Brant County, Haldimand, Norfolk including secondary school students from Six Nations and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nations.
Teachers would remain on the job if a deal can be reached before December 4th.
The one day closure is part of province wide job action being undertaken by the OSSTF as they continue to negotiate a new deal with the Province of Ontario. It comes as escalation of job action that began on November 26th that included information pickets and a limited withdrawal of services. The services being withdrawn include participation in EQAO preparation or testing, participation in unpaid staff meetings outside of the regular school day, and providing comments on any secondary provincial report cards.
OSSTF president Harvey Bischof said that there has been little progress despite eight months of talks with the province.
“This is intended to draw further attention to the government’s destructive cuts to the education system.”
Those cuts include a reduction in staffing, requirement of online courses, increased class size and a cap of public sector wage increases at one per cent over the next three years. Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said that the province has made major moves in attempts to reach a deal to no avail.
“On the days we made reasonable offers—reducing class sizes from 28 to 25 with the provincial average, reducing online classes from five to two—the union on those days decided to escalate. This is wrong and our students deserve better.”
He added that the decision to remove kids from class for a day as part of escalating pressure is unacceptable.
For the 26,000 students who are part of the Grand Erie District School Board, there is still hope that a deal can be reached to avoid more job action.
“Grand Erie remains hopeful that an agreement with OSSTF can be reached soon,” said Greg Anderson, Chair of the Grand Erie District School Board. “In the meantime, we want to thank our students and families for their continued patience and understanding during these uncertain times.”
Following the one day closure, teachers will be back at work on Thursday December 5th.