The Ford government’s move to save money has reportedly cost hundreds of Ontario public high school teachers their full-time jobs.
According to a report in the Toronto Star, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) found that the “equivalent of 266 full-time teaching positions have been eliminated” among 10 school boards — which means that the number of teachers laid off is higher.
At the Toronto District School Board, 124 teachers have been laid off, the Star reports.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce said on Thursday that the government has put an offer on the table which would see class sizes lowered from 28 to 25, as part of bargaining with the OSSTF. But the union has called that a “poison pill.”
Currently, the board-wide average for high school class sizes are at 22 students.
“A move from the current class size ratio of 22:1 to 25:1 would still remove roughly 5,000 teachers from our high schools,” OSSTF president Harvey Bischof has said.
“And with the removal of locally-enforceable class size caps, there would essentially be no limits on the size of classes into which Ontario students could be squeezed.”
Education was the top of mind for many Ontarians with the resumption of a new legislative session on Monday, amid tough bargaining with the province’s education sector.
The unions representing high school teachers, elementary teachers, and English Catholic teachers are all holding strike votes. A strike by support staff was narrowly avoided earlier this month when the Canadian Union of Public Employees reached a deal with the province, agreeing to a one-per-cent wage increase for its 55,000 education workers.
At Queen’s Park, labour unions and other activists organized a protest Monday to decry various cuts and changes enacted by the government, with dozens of vehicles and people encircling the legislature.