The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is commencing its “Phase 1” work-to-rule strike action across the province today. ETFO members will withdraw from Ministry of Education and school board activities while remaining in the classroom to instruct and support their students.

The Phase 1 work-to-rule is intended to put the government’s feet to the fire so it will negotiate deals that acknowledge the professionalism of ETFO members, are good for students and support Ontario’s world-class education system.

“ETFO wants the Ford government to work with us on important issues but, so far, it has not shown much interest in doing that. Our members are getting impatient, and they are taking strike action because it seems to be the only way to get this government’s attention,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond.

“Education Minister Stephen Lecce claims only a few bargaining issues are outstanding,” continued Hammond. “That is not the case. We are very far apart on many substantive items that affect both ETFO members and student learning environments.”

“At a time when the Ford government has wasted more than $230 million to cancel renewable energy projects, it is also demanding up to $150 million in cuts to elementary education. That’s unacceptable. No one wants cuts except this government, which has to find a way to pay for the mistakes caused by its irresponsible and short-sighted decisions.”

“We need a commitment from the Ford government to public elementary education. It’s time Ford’s Minister of Education Stephen Lecce stopped making statements that misrepresent what’s happening at the bargaining table and demonstrated real action to ensure, for example, that students with special needs have the support they need and there are enough caring adults in schools to provide the attention every student deserves.”

“ETFO has raised issues that are being ignored, like rising school-based violence and reasonable class sizes for our youngest learners. A regulation in place since 2012 around teacher hiring is in jeopardy. Without it, school boards will revert to cronyism and favouritism rather than hiring teachers based on their qualifications and experience,” added Hammond.