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Vaughan students protest to support teachers

Students at Woodbridge College in Vaughan held a rally on Sept. 14, 2012, to protest the cancellation of extracurricular activities. PHOTO COURTESY NP (@nphaamx).

Students at Woodbridge College in Vaughan held a rally Friday to protest the cancellation of extracurricular activities and to support teachers who have stopped coaching sports teams and running clubs.

“We believe that teachers are the victims of what the government did and what Dalton McGuinty did,” student Steven Deacon said.

“We don’t blame teachers and we’re trying to support them. If they get everything back, we get everything back.”

Meanwhile, teachers held a protest of their own outside MPP Laurel Broten’s office. About 100 teachers stood in the rain outside her Etobicoke office, protesting the loss of bargaining rights and demanding a return to negotiations.

The rally was organized by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF).

Last week, the OSSTF called on its 60,000 members not to volunteer for any extracurricular activities for one day on Wednesday after the Putting Students First Act passed a day earlier.  Since then Stephen Lewis Secondary School in Vaughan has cancelled all extracurricular activities for the entire school year.

The Liberals insist the measure is needed to help them maintain their full-day kindergarten program and to maintain small class sizes as the provincial government works to reduce a $15-billion deficit.  

“We know that the root of this situation is the deficit,” student Susan Mansuri said.  

“They’re taking the rights of our teachers away…Through fighting for them, hopefully we get what we want,” she added.

“We hope that with enough media attention…something will be done.”

Teachers’ unions also have threatened to challenge the act in court, claiming it violates their constitutional rights.

The bill, which reins-in wages, halves sick days and bans strikes or lockouts for teachers and education workers, passed Tuesday with the support of the Progressive Conservatives.