Gloves off in teacher's strike: two sides dig in and blame each other
OTTAWA -- As the one day teacher’s strike disrupts students and families across the province, there was a blunt message from Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce: teachers want more money.
“This is about compensation,” Lecce told Leslie Roberts on CTV Morning Live.
Lecce also says it’s not about Premier Doug Ford, the unions do this with every government.
“I think families are frustrated and every three years to be quite frank, we’re in the same story the same boat. It doesn’t matter if you’re a New Democrat, a Liberal or a Progressive Conservative”, he said.
This the first teachers' strike in Ontario in more than two decades, and the union says the issue is not just money, but they do have problems with the government suggesting a raise of just 1%.
“Contrary to the minister’s claim that this is all about compensation, we have significant quality of education issues”, Harvey Bischof, President of the OSSTF told CP24 on Wednesday morning.
“The minster still wants to raise class sizes, from the current 22.5, to 25 and he calls that an improvement”, he said.
“Over four days of bargaining, the Ford government did not forward a single proposal to secure quality of education for Ontario students, not a single proposal to protect class sizes”, Bischof said.
Lecce insists a deal is within reach and he’s asking the union to accept the raise that was accepted by CUPE, 1% per year, pointing out teachers in Ontario are well compensated.
“They’re the second highest paid educators in the country, the average is $92,000 a year”, Lecce said.
The union calls the CUPE deal an “outlier”, suggesting it is a deal he would not have agreed to.
“We’re not required to take a template from another bargaining table and adopt it wholesale”, Bischof said.
Ottawa high school teachers and support staff joined thousands of others in the one-day strike, setting up picket lines outside a dozen schools and local MPP offices.
“If this makes a difference fantastic,” said high school Erica Potter. “Even if it’s a little bit we’re here, we’re proud, going to keep going.”
“It’s not just about the money,” said early childhood educator Kaitlin Watson. “It’s about how much we love our jobs, how much we love our children, how much we love the children of Ontario.”
High school teacher Heather Morse said she hopes the strike will bring some change.
“To hopefully raise awareness and stop this because we need no larger classes,” she said.