Teacher strike closes Windsor-Essex Catholic schools
Unifor president Dave Cassidy joins teachers on the picket line in Windsor, on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Bob Bellacicco / CTV Windsor)
WINDSOR -- Catholic schools across Ontario were closed Tuesday, as were high schools and elementary schools in several public boards, with teachers in three out of the four major unions holding one-day strikes.
That means all students with the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board had no school. There are about 1,800 English Catholic teachers at the WECDSB.
Those unions, as well as the one representing teachers in the French system, say they are frustrated with a lack of progress in contract negotiations with the provincial government.
"We're out here today because we believe we need to be sending a strong message about the government's regressive cuts to education, around the impact it's having on our students and our students' learning," said Liz Stuart, president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association.
"It's never an easy decision, but effectively what we thought about was, we're not just thinking about today or tomorrow or next semester, we're thinking about the future."
The teachers say class size increases and the introduction of mandatory e-learning courses are among the sticking points, but Education Minister Stephen Lecce says compensation is the main barrier.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation was targeting several boards including the largest, the Toronto District School Board, which has now seen three one-day strikes by the union. The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario is holding rotating strikes all week at boards across the province.
The pressure on the government may temporarily ease after this week. Though high school teachers have been engaging in weekly rotating strikes, they have said there will be none during next week's exam period, and OECTA has made the same vow.
Stuart said she hopes the government will return to bargaining with a renewed commitment to "maintain and improve our publicly funded education system."
"We'll take a step back and really think about what is the best next step for us and our members and the students they serve and we'll make those decisions over the next few days," Stuart said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2020. With files fromCTV Windsor.