Terri Holm had nothing but sympathy for the province's teachers as she spoke to Northern Life before picking up her seven-year-old daughter, Journey, at Northeastern Elementary School Dec. 14.
Classes at Northeastern, along with those for all elementary school students attending the Rainbow District School Board's schools, are cancelled Dec. 17.
School is out that day due to a one-day strike by members of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO). Rotating ETFO strikes have been taking place throughout the province since Dec. 10.
“I feel for (the teachers),” she said. “I understand why they have to do it.”
Holm added she's not too impressed with the actions of the provincial government, which, through Bill 115, has the power to impose many contract terms on teachers and order them back to work.
“I feel as though they're strong-arming them,” she said.
Holm said she's able to stay home with her daughter Dec. 17, but she feels bad for parents who are having trouble finding child care that day.
Stacy Hechsler, whose daughter, Emma, is in Grade 3 at Northeastern, said she's “on the fence” when it comes to whether or not she supports the teachers' job actions.
When asked if teachers should find a way to protest Bill 115 without affecting students, she said it would be great if they could try.
“But I think their hands are tied right now, unfortunately,” Hechsler said.
Beyond the series of one-day strikes, the ETFO and its secondary school counterpart, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF), began work to rule actions Dec. 10.
Hechsler said it's been difficult to explain to her daughter why certain school activities have been cancelled.
“They were supposed to got to see the Robert Munsch play at the theatre centre,” she said. “That was cancelled. They were very disappointed.”
The father of a boy attending junior kindergarten at Northeastern, who did not want to be identified, said he supports the teachers, as he's a union man himself.
“They got stripped of their bargaining rights, which I feel is not a proper way of doing business,” he said. “I personally hope they get their rights back, but the government's in charge. You know how that goes when the government is in charge.”
The father said he wishes the situation would be resolved, though, as the children are the ones who are the victims.
He said he happened to be off work next week, so finding child care isn't a problem for his family.
“But I know other families are going to be struggling for day care, and people are going to take off work,” the father said.
“I know a few (who are affected), especially single mothers and fathers. There were a couple of people who were already venting to me today.”