Rainbow District School Board is cancelling classes from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8 in Sudbury, Espanola and Manitoulin Jan. 11, following news that Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) members will stage a one-day political protest.
The strike action was announced on the union's website Jan. 9. It is “aimed at the government and education minister for invoking Bill 115,” which the province used last week to impose contracts on teachers and education workers, a press release from the union said.
Now that ETFO is no longer in a legal strike position, walking off the job would be illegal.
"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,” said ETFO president Sam Hammond, in the press release.
"She could have taken our olive branch and waited for a new leader to try and find solutions, but she chose not to.
"Our members are standing up to say that democratic values must trump party politics in this province. What happened to educators must not happen to any other Ontarian. The stain of Bill 115, enacted four months ago this Friday, serves as a permanent reminder of that."
Ninety-two per cent of more than 46,000 members who cast a ballot in December voted in favour of a one-day political protest should the minister impose contracts using Bill 115, the press release said.
"This protest is aimed squarely at the government and education minister, not those school boards who pursued legal collective bargaining with our locals,” Hammond said.
“It is shameful that the minister tied their hands with the limiting parameters of Bill 115. The government can prorogue the legislature but it can’t prorogue democracy."
"It is disingenuous for Minister Broten to say that the government has not been able to communicate with the rank-and-file members of our federation.
"Our members have heard her, and have responded – not just with the one-day protest vote. They spoke with huge majorities in two other votes to protest Bill 115 when it was enacted last fall."
Meanwhile, transportation is also cancelled for students who attend a Rainbow elementary school. This notice includes Grade 7 and 8 students at Chelmsford Valley District Composite School and Lively District Secondary School. It also includes Gatchell School and the Ruth MacMillan Centre.
It is important that parents make alternative arrangements for the care of their children, the board said today. Parents will not be able to send their children to a Rainbow elementary school on Jan. 11. Most childcare services in Rainbow Schools will continue to operate for children who are registered.
Community agencies offering programs in Rainbow elementary schools could choose to cancel them. Parents should call their service providers for more information.
“We apologize for the short notice and the inconvenience this may cause,” said Director of Education Norm Blaseg. “We thank parents/guardians, once again, for their patience and understanding.”
JK to Grade 8 classes in Rainbow Schools will resume on Jan. 14.
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