Students’ hopes were dashed on Thursday when Ontario elementary school teachers said they would keep withholding extracurricular activities after classes.
Members of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) met Thursday and decided teachers should continue their boycott of volunteer activities in a labour dispute with the Liberal government that began when it introduced the controversial Bill 115 last fall.
“What my members have asked for, consistently over the last month, is that there be concrete solutions, not just goodwill,” ETFO president Sam Hammond told CityNews.
While Hammond said the “goodwill” from the province under new Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne was welcome, it was not enough to change members’ minds.
“While we have experienced a marked and welcome change in the Wynne government’s approach to addressing its relationship with teachers, this has yet to translate into real change,” he said, adding that ETFO’s advice regarding voluntary and extracurricular activities remains unchanged.
“Beyond the initial commitments made by the government team to listen, engage in positive dialogue and explore a more inclusive process for future bargaining rounds, it is going to take real actions to regain the confidence of members…”
The government said in a release it was “disappointed” with ETFO’s decision.
“We have worked hard to repair relationships with the education sector, and we will continue to engage in this process,”
Education Minister Liz Sandals said. “We have had many constructive conversations with ETFO, and look forward to more in the future.”
Progressive Conservative education critic Lisa MacLeod said Wynne’s “promise of process has failed miserably and our kids are no further ahead than they were last week when she said the mission was accomplished.”.
“Victory is not hers.”
Unlike at the elementary level, after-school activities are slowly returning to the province’s high schools.
Last week, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) recommended that its members resume extracurricular activities at their discretion.
Both public high school and elementary teachers withheld running after-school clubs and coaching sports to protest Bill 115, legislation that allowed the government to impose a two-year contract on them in January. Education unions say the legislation violated their right to collective bargaining and have filed court challenges.
With files from Shawne McKeown