Public elementary teachers in Ontario will now have until tonight at midnight to vote on whether to hold a full-day political protest.  The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario(ETFO) says the protest would take place if the Minister of Education imposes a collective agreement or ends the legal strike, using the provisions of Bill 115.

The Federation says so far, 45-thousand members have voted on-line.  The Federation says participation was so overwhelming, it decided to extend the vote by 24 hours, to midnight tonight.

“Through this transparent democratic process, ETFO’s 76,000 members will determine how they will respond if the education minister tramples their rights by imposing a collective agreement or ending a legal strike,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond. “Teachers and education professionals are united in their stand that this government has severely overstepped democratic bounds with Bill 115.”

Bill 115, passed by the Liberal government with support from the Progressive Conservatives, was made law on September 11, 2012. It gives the minister of education the power to end legal strike action, approve all collective agreements, or impose a collective agreement

“I am accountable to my members, and they are speaking loudly and clearly,” said Hammond. “Why would educators, or any workers in Ontario for that matter, allow this government to willfully suspend employees’ fundamental rights by using legislation that puts itself above the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Ontario Labour Relations Act, and the courts.”

In local votes held earlier this fall, ETFO members overwhelmingly approved strike action. Later this week, ETFO will announce details on commencing one-day strikes in boards across the province. Parents will be given 72 hours’ notice of these strikes.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario represents 76,000 elementary public school teachers and education professionals across the province and is the largest teacher federation in Canada.