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Teachers at more Ontario school boards announce walkouts

Stratford Central Secondary School students march alongside Elementary teachers from the Avon Mainland School Board in front of the school in Stratford, Ontario, December 10, 2012 on the first day of rotating 1 day strikes by elementary teachers in Ontario to protest the government's imposed contract.

GEOFF ROBINS/The Globe and Mail

A wave of one-day walkouts at Ontario elementary schools begins this week and will hit the greater Toronto area Thursday.

Teachers and occasional teachers will strike Thursday at the 170 elementary schools of the York Region District School Board, the third largest school district in Ontario.

Also walking out on that day are elementary teachers at Renfrew and Trillium Lakelands school boards.

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"We had really hoped it would not come to this," Trillium Lakelands school board chair Karen Round said in a statement. "This action is a fight between the teacher's union and the provincial government. I believe our unions know that [the] school board hands are tied at this point in time."

This morning, elementary teachers at Avon Maitland District School Board in the Stratford area and the District School Board Ontario North East in Timmins were the first to take part in  the rotating walkouts, with Niagara and Keewatin-Patricia schools walking out tomorrow.

Teachers are protesting the provincial Liberals' Bill 115, passed in late August, which imposes a contract on the province's public-school teachers and restricts their ability to strike.

The government doesn't plan to block the walkouts – as long as they don't go beyond one day.

"I hope teachers will do as they've committed to do, which is to take no more than one day away from school," Premier Dalton McGuinty said in a communiqué, arguing that the law is part of the province's effort to curtail its $14-billion deficit.

Lakehead, Hastings-Prince Edward and Ottawa-Carleton will stage a one-day strike Wednesday.

"Teachers have been stripped of their democratic rights and we must take a stand, no matter how difficult or inconvenient that may be," Nadia Ciacci, President of the York Region Occasional Teacher Local, said in a statement.

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The province's high-school teachers have said they don't plan to go on strike but are instead working to rule: arriving just before school starts, leaving right when it ends and not participating in extra-curricular activities.

Teachers in the Ottawa-Carleton board are the latest to announce a strike so far, with more than 4,000 teachers and occasional teachers walking off the job.

"The minister needs to rethink her approach to local bargaining because of the limitations we are working under to reach an agreement," said Peter Giuliani, president of the Ottawa-Carleton Teacher Local, said in a statement. "Her ham-fisted approach has forced us into a strike in order to try and find a way to move forward."

York Region school board teachers plan to strike Thursday, CP24 reported Sunday.

Elementary-school boards have said they'd give parents 72 hours notice before any action. Almost all of them – including boards in Toronto, Hamilton, Durham and Peel – are in a local strike position as of Monday; many were a week ago.

The province's high-school teachers have said they don't plan to go on strike but are instead working to rule – arriving just before school starts, leaving right when it ends and not participating in extra-curricular activities.

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About the Author
National reporter

Tu Thanh Ha is based in Toronto and writes frequently about judicial, political and security issues. He spent 12 years as a correspondent for the Globe and Mail in Montreal, reporting on Quebec politics, organized crime, terror suspects, space flights and native issues. More

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