Hundreds of teachers and support staff rallied Wednesday outside the Yonge Street office of the Toronto District School Board, demanding an end to the government’s ongoing labour impasse with their union.
Public secondary schools across the province were shuttered for the day after last-ditch talks with the government failed to reach a deal. The daylong strike by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation is the first in more than two decades.
“We’re here to stand up for them to make sure they get what they need, which is class sizes that are realistic, that are safe, that they can learn in and that those don’t increase,” said occasional high school teacher, Fraser Gottlieb, while picketing outside the TDSB head office.
Gottlieb said it’s about ensuring there is a sufficient level of funding, “so that we can offer (students) the course that they want to take, and that they have the option to take courses and they aren’t forced to take mandatory online courses.”
Gottlieb, like his colleagues, don’t want to see larger classes or students being forced to earn two mandatory online credits. The government is now proposing that classes grow to an average size of 25 students from last year’s 22, instead of its originally proposed 28.
The province is also proposing that students must take two e-learning classes instead of the originally proposed four.
Both sides have expressed frustration with the lack of progress in the talks.
“At the central (bargaining) table, my understanding is, we’re miles apart,” said Leslie Wolf, president of OSSTF Toronto.
“The government, while it has made proposals through the press, none of those proposals have been brought to the bargaining table.”
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