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Teacher protest Friday may close public elementary schools in Ont. 0

Kate Dubinski

By Kate Dubinski, The London Free Press

ETFO President Sam Hammond.  (Dave Thomas/QMI Agency)

ETFO President Sam Hammond. (Dave Thomas/QMI Agency)

Ontario elementary teachers will hold a one-day walkout Friday that could close the province's public elementary schools.

In December, members of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario voted 92% in favour of a one-day political protest should the government impose contracts on its members.

Education Minister Laurel Broten used her powers under Bill 115 to impose the contracts, which freeze wages, cut sick days and eliminate the perk that allowed teachers to cash out unused sick days when they retire.

Broten said she hoped that by imposing the contracts, then repealing the bill, teachers would go back to providing extracurricular activities, which students haven't had for most of the school year.

Instead, her move angered teachers further.

"The minister made a deliberate and provocative choice to wipe out the democratic rights of tens of thousands of educators rather than work towards a respectful solution," union president Sam Hammond said.

The union wanted the minister to hold off on imposing contracts at least until a new Liberal leader — and premier — is chosen Jan. 26.

Officials from several school boards in the province say they haven't received any notice about the walkout and don't know the details, so they can't say yet whether schools will be closed.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation is scheduled to meet with its local presidents Wednesday to determine its next steps.

OSSTF members also voted in favour of a political protest should the minister impose contracts.

— With files from Shawn Jeffords

 

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