Strikes shut out 70,000 students in three Ontario boards

Teachers in Peel Region hit the picket lines after talks to avert a strike went into the early-morning hours

TORONTO—More than 70,000 Ontario high school students are out of class today as a result of teacher strikes at three school boards.

Teachers in Peel Region, west of Toronto, hit the picket lines Monday after talks to avert a strike went into the early-morning hours, but ultimately failed to reach a deal.

Teacher strikes are also ongoing in Rainbow District, encompassing Sudbury and its surrounding regions, and in Durham Region, east of Toronto, where 24,000 students have been kept from class since April 20.

This is the first round of negotiations since the province brought in a new bargaining system, with both local and provincial talks—monetary issues are being handled centrally.

Central talks between the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation have also broken down and no future bargaining dates are scheduled.

Janet McDougald, the chair of the Peel District School Board, where there are 42,000 secondary students, says she believes the strike at her board is not about local issues at all, but a “provincial takeover disguised as a local action.”

The OSSTF said the province and the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association at the central talks “threaten the learning conditions of Ontario students by tabling proposals that will lead to larger class sizes.”

Ontario’s elementary teachers will be in a legal strike position on May 10.