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Here’s what you need to know about upcoming strikes at Hamilton schools

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Here’s what you need to know about upcoming strikes at Hamilton schools

If you have young children in Hamilton public schools, you should note that schools will be closed for several days in the coming weeks due to rotating strikes.

An upcoming one-day strike will also impact Catholic school children in all grades.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) said Monday (Jan. 27) members will be engaged in strike action in public school boards across Ontario this week and next unless progress is made at the central bargaining table.

On Tuesday, however, media reports suggested that Education minister Stephen Lecce is ready to return to the table as early as Wednesday (Jan. 29).

If a deal can’t be reached, though, elementary schools in the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) will be affected by the strikes.

All HWDSB elementary schools will be closed to students in kindergarten through to grade 8 on Jan. 31, Feb. 6 and Feb. 7, 2020, in the event of a walkout.

All Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB) schools will be closed to students on Tuesday, February 4, 2020, an update on the Board’s website says.

The teachers’ unions say they’re fighting for smaller class sizes and funding for education, while the province says teachers are asking for unreasonable raises (the province has offered a 1 per cent raise).

“There is nothing to be gained by Minister Lecce avoiding meaningful and fair contract talks other than further damaging the reputation of the Ford government,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond in a statement.

“Educators and parents are not going to accept the government’s deep cuts to public education that only serve to harm the quality of education for generations to come. From ETFO’s perspective, fair contract talks must include appropriate funding for special education; a strategy to address classroom violence; maintaining our internationally recognized kindergarten program; fair hiring practices; class sizes that meet the needs of elementary students; and compensation that keeps up with inflation.”

“I challenge the minister to send his negotiators back to the table to address these issues because in four months of talks from August through December 2019, his negotiators had no mandate to discuss them.”

The ETFO isn’t the only union to engage in job action. The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) has also held one-day walk-outs.

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) has also announced that it is planning a second one-day, province-wide walkout on Tuesday, Feb. 4.

Teachers in publicly funded Catholic district school boards across Ontario will not be reporting to work or performing any of their teaching duties on that day.

“We know Ontarians are growing impatient with these negotiations. Frankly, we share their frustration,” said OECTA President Liz Stuart in a statement.

“But we cannot allow this government to wear us all down and force us to accept their devastating cuts. The long-term consequences for our schools and our students are simply unacceptable. Strike action is tough for everyone, but it is a sacrifice we need to make to show the government we will not be deterred in our efforts to protect what we have worked so hard to build.”

The ETFO also announced that beginning Feb. 3, 2020, its members will not participate in extracurricular activities, unless progress is made in negotiations. Elementary schools will communicate with affected students directly with regards to postponements or cancellations.

Here’s what parents should note about the upcoming strikes at HWDSB schools:

  • Licensed child care centres in all elementary and secondary schools will be open.
  • Before- and after-school programs in elementary schools may be open.
  • Parents/guardians are asked to contact their child’s program operator for details.
  • EarlyON Child and Family Centres will be open.
  • Elementary schools will remain accessible to rental permit holders for community use.
  • The child care fee subsidies for families who currently receive them will increase to cover extended hours. Child care subsidies will not be available for new families at this time.
  • Programs will have a limited ability to accept new families on this day. Learn more at www.hamilton.ca/childcare.
  • Parents and community members may experience picket lines at some school locations.

Here’s what patent should note about the upcoming strike at HWCDSB schools:

  • All elementary & secondary schools are closed to students. All after-hours programming and student activities (athletics, clubs, CYO, etc.) will be cancelled.
  • St. Charles Centres will remain open, and regular adult programming – excluding credit programs – will operate as per usual. After-hours and evening programming (ESL, Citizenship/IELTS, general interest courses, and elementary International Languages classes) will be offered.
  • Childcare centres/EarlyON will remain open.
  • Community Use of School permits will be supported; schools are open.
  • Third party leases will be supported; sites are open.

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