Ontario’s public elementary school teachers have voted 95 per cent in favour of a strike, their union announced Wednesday.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario has said that a strike mandate wouldn’t necessarily mean teachers will walk off the job, but will add pressure on the government to reach a contract deal with teachers at the bargaining table.
“This strong strike mandate sends a very clear message to the government,” president Karen Brown wrote in a statement.
“We need the government to stop stalling and start negotiating seriously on our members’ key priorities, like providing more supports for students with special needs, acknowledging the staffing crisis in education, putting a fair compensation offer on the table, and addressing violence in schools.”
Negotiations are set to continue this month.
The union representing public high school teachers has agreed to a bargaining process with the government that will see the parties keep negotiating until Oct. 27 then send any outstanding issues to be resolved by arbitration, eliminating the possibility of a strike.
But ETFO and the other major teachers’ unions have rejected that pathway.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce said it is “extremely disappointing” that ETFO has turned down the opportunity.
“Our government has remained at the table to avoid a strike and keep kids in class,” he wrote in a statement. “ETFO has voted in favour of a strike mandate that Ontario families do not want or deserve.”
The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association is also holding strike votes Wednesday and Thursday.
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