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English Catholic teachers to launch one-day, province-wide strike on Jan. 21

Last Updated Jan 13, 2020 at 4:08 pm EST

A classroom sits empty. UNSPLASH/Rubén Rodriguez

Teachers in Ontario’s English Catholic system have announced a one-day strike on Jan. 21.

The president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) says the government appears to only “do the right thing” when under pressure, so teachers have little choice but to take the next step in the bargaining process. The strike will impact elementary and high schools.

This is the first time in 20 years that the OECTA will completely withdraw services.

Catholic teachers began a work-to-rule campaign Monday that includes not participating in standardized testing, preparing report card comments or participating in Ministry of Education initiatives.

OECTA president Liz Stuart says the government negotiating team has said it has no authority to reach an agreement that doesn’t include “significant, permanent cuts.”

Education Minister Stephen Lecce released a statement Monday afternoon saying he was “disappointed in the teacher union’s continued focus on escalation.”

“Following five hours of a work-to-rule campaign, OECTA has decided to escalate to a one-day province-wide strike that negatively impacts their students,” he said in the statement.

Meanwhile, public elementary teachers stepped up their work-to-rule campaign and are planning for rotating strikes starting next week, while public high school teachers are set to stage the latest in a series of one-day, rotating strikes on Wednesday.

Lecce is urging teachers’ unions to stop further escalation.