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Elementary teachers could be on strike before end of November

Last Updated Nov 8, 2019 at 12:41 pm EDT

Elementary school teachers in the province could be on the picket lines before the end of the month.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario says it has received a ‘no board’ report from the Ministry of Labour, meaning the union will be a position to legally walk out by Nov. 25.

ETFO President Sam Hammond says he hopes the ‘no board’ report is a sign for the Ford government to “get serious about contract talks.”

“ETFO is fighting for investment, not cuts in education, but Doug Ford’s Education Minister Stephen Lecce isn’t listening,” Hammond said in a statement. “It’s unfortunate that this is only way we can get the government and school board associations to address these critical issues and maintain Ontario’s world-class public education system.”

The union, which represents 83,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education workers, announced last week its members voted 98 per cent in favour of a strike, calling the result an overwhelming mandate for job action if necessary.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, which represents high school teachers across the province, received its ‘no board’ report back on Nov. 1 and its province-wide strike vote is expected to be completed by Nov. 15. They will be in a position to walk off the job by Nov. 18.

The OSSTF says it has scheduled contract talks with the province next week.

Contracts with all of the province’s education workers expired at the end of August, and the government has been embroiled in testy negotiations with all of the education unions since the school year began.

It narrowly averted a strike with the Canadian Union of Public Employees after 79 per cent of its 55,000 members voted in favour of accepting a new deal.