Statement from Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty on ETFO One-Day Strike Action
Today, Premier McGuinty made the following statement regarding one-day strikes by the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO):
"I was disappointed to learn that some ETFO locals have announced their intention to conduct a one-day strike on Monday in the Avon Maitland and Ontario North East district school boards. These actions place students squarely in the middle of a dispute between ETFO and this government -- a dispute that we believe ETFO should pursue in the courts against the government, not in our classrooms against our students.
Just as students and parents have the right to stability in their schools, teachers have the opportunity to strike when there is no collective agreement in place. We need to strike a reasonable balance.
I understand this will be an inconvenience for parents as they make special arrangements, and it is regrettable for students to miss any time learning, even a day. However, a legal one-day strike action does not warrant the government's intervention.
It is worth noting that while students will miss an entire day of class, and teachers will spend one entire day on the picket line, and lawyers will spend weeks preparing their case, ETFO leadership have spent less than an hour in the last ten months at the negotiating table, which I continue to believe is the best place to resolve the issue.
After over 300 hours of hard work at the negotiating table, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association and the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens were able to reach an agreement with the government. It freezes pay and keeps education funding focused on the classroom. And today, these teachers and their students are in their classrooms together.
ETFO has until December 31 to reach a negotiated settlement with their local school boards. And we still believe that is the best way forward. Teachers have been essential partners in raising student achievement, which is why we invested in improved training and compensation for teachers these past nine years. We'll continue encouraging all our teachers to work with us to keep education funding focused on the classroom, not pay raises, so that progress in education continues.
We're determined to protect full-day kindergarten, keep test scores going up and the graduation rate rising.
Together, we've built an education system that's among the best in the world. In an uncertain global economy and with important challenges facing the next generation, we can't be satisfied. Ontario needs to stay ahead, continue leading the world in education and providing our children with the best possible start in life."