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Teachers in Barrie, Peterborough & Guelph hit the picket lines

The walkout begins at FE Madill in Wingham on Dec. 10, 2012. Courtesy of Heather Durnin (@hdurnin).

Elementary school teachers in Barrie, Peterborough and Guelph hit the picket lines on Friday as the unions continued their battle with the Ontario government over the controversial Bill 115.

Teachers at the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, which includes Peterborough; Simcoe County District School Board, which covers Barrie, Innisfil, Collingwood and Bradford; and Upper Grand District School Board, which covers Dufferin County, Wellington County and Guelph, are all on strike.

According to multiple sources, Toronto and Peel elementary teachers will hold their one-day strikes on Tuesday.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has not confirmed the GTA strikes, saying they would give parents only 72 hours’ notice before any planned strike. The official notice is expected Saturday.

A representative from the Durham District School Board told CityNews that they are prepared for a Tuesday strike, but have received no official word from union.

If there is a strike, Durham schools will be closed and there will not be any transportation available for students, communications manager Andrea Pidwerbecki told CityNews on Friday.

Durham’s school-based full-day childcare centres will remain open for those currently registered but parent and family literacy hubs will be closed during the strike. After school recreational programs will not be available, the board said.

Toronto’s elementary schools will also have to close in the event of a strike, Toronto District School Board chair Chris Bolton said Tuesday, as staff said it would not be safe to keep them open.

The EFTO confirmed that teachers in  Rainbow District School Board, which includes Manitoulin Island, Espanola and Sudbury; Rainy River, Hamilton-Wentworth and James Bay, including Moosonee and Moose Factory,  would strike on Monday.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Ontario high school students protested at Queen’s Park Thursday, urging an end to the labour dispute.

Secondary school teachers have stopped volunteering for extracurricular activities like sports, clubs and field trips.

Two years of work-to-rule action are possible, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) said Tuesday, if the government and the union don’t reach an agreement.
The province has already reached deals with its French and Catholic boards.

Bill 115 allows the government to impose a two-year contract on teachers which includes a wage freeze, halves sick days and ends teachers’ ability to bank unused sick days.

It also gives Education Minister Laurel Broten the power to end a strike or lockout without debating the issue in the provincial legislature. The government said it would allow the strikes as long they didn’t last more than one day.

If teachers and their local school boards do not reach an agreement by Dec. 31, the province will impose one.