Ontario teachers threaten strike action on the heels of unprecedented school closures

A majority of English Catholic teachers have voted in favour of a strike mandate amid ongoing government negotiations, on the heels of unprecedented school closures and learning disruptions faced by Ontario schoolchildren during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ontario teachers threaten strike action on the heels of unprecedented school closures
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An overwhelming majority of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) have voted in favour of strike action if government bargaining takes an unfavourable turn.

The vote saw 97% of Catholic teachers say yes to delivering a strike mandate as government bargaining dates draw near, six weeks into an uninterrupted school year.

“Contrary to Minister of Education Stephen Lecce’s ongoing misinformation campaign, taking a strike vote and receiving a strong strike mandate does not necessarily mean that Catholic teachers will take job action,” OECTA President René Jansen in de Wal said in a news release yesterday.

Ontario’s Education Minister Stephen Lecce expressed disappointment at this trajectory.

“It is disappointing that OECTA members have voted to put themselves on a path to strike. We’ve already reached a fair deal with one of the largest teacher unions to keep kids in class, and we urge that OECTA does the same by coming to the table, signing a deal, and committing to keeping kids in class,” he posted on X.

Meanwhile, the safety of Ontario schools remains a contentious topic with teachers repeatedly citing mounting violence in classrooms.

The impact of government-sanctioned COVID-19 response measures on the mental health and social fabric of students and young children undoubtedly played a significant role in the challenges currently witnessed in today’s classrooms.

Ontario educator Jay McCurdy discussed this at length at the National Citizen's Inquiry in Toronto on April 1.

Backed with 24 years of experience as an educator, McCurdy testified that the educational system was damaged by the extreme responsibilities put on the shoulders of teachers and school staff who were left to enforce public health measures despite having no medical training.

McCurdy furthered that 28 weeks of rolling school closures imposed on students, coupled with three years of forced social isolation due to COVID-related public health restrictions, negatively affected the capability of children in school today.

There was no sound evidence to support school closures and young people will bear lifelong impacts of nonsensical shuttering, according to a cost-analysis report published by the Fraser Institute.

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  • By Tamara Ugolini

PETITION: Let Our Kids Go Back To Class

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