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Ottawa public elementary teachers to join provincial teachers in work to rule
Published Thursday, November 14, 2019 5:42PM EST Last Updated Thursday, November 14, 2019 6:34PM EST
Ontario's elementary teachers are ramping up their job action. They will begin a work to rule campaign in less than two weeks promising their job action is intended to pressure the government and not impact their students.
The work to rule starts November 26th when teachers will stop going to staff meetings or completing report cards.
The union has made it clear this is the first phase and that they're ready to ramp it up if a new contract isn't reached.
The Wild Child coffee shop in Ottawa's Westboro is haven for parents, started by a mom who fully understands the pressures and the importance of nurturing young minds.
“My middle child is my wild child,” says Paige Watts, the owner of Wild Child Coffee Project. “Imagine having 25 or more of them, being pulled in 25 different ways and helping them to grow and be supportive.”
Ontario's elementary school teachers say that's the crux of the issue: class sizes and students' needs are growing and the resources to help educators are disappearing.
Elizabeth Kettle is the 1st Vice President of the Ottawa Carleton Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, or ETFO, “ETFO has a 98% strike mandate,” says Kettle, “That's teachers telling ETFO we want you to sit down and talk about things, and these are our more pressing concerns. The government needs to realize that 98% is teachers saying, “You need to listen to us.”
Twelve days from now, Ontario's elementary school teachers will begin a work to rule campaign that will encompass many things.
For instance, teachers won't participate in professional learning, math strategy activities, and EQAO-related activities and members won't complete first term report cards.
“We want parents to know very clearly,” says Sam Hammond, the President of ETFO, “that the administrative tasks that our members will not be doing related to ministry and school board will not affect the learning conditions or safety of students in what we will be moving forward with on November 26th.”
The Ontario Education Minister disputes that, especially when it comes to kids struggling with math.
"The singular victim of this escalation is our kids" Stephen Lecce said in a statement.
"This move will clearly hurt students in, and beyond, the classroom."
Some parents say kids already hurting from government cuts. April Turner is an early childhood educator with Ottawa's Catholic board.
“I support the teachers,” she says, “and if a strike is what eventually needs to happen, then I support them with that.”
The chair of the Ottawa-Carleton District School board says it is too early to say what the impact will be of the job action here in this city.
“My message for parents,” she says, “is stay tuned. We will get more information out to you in terms of the potential impact as we get that sorted out.”
We could see a lot more labor strife in the weeks to come. Three of the four major teachers’ unions are taking steps towards potential strikes as they negotiate new contracts with the government.