The Doug Ford government is under increasing pressure to end teacher strikes at the same time new polling shows more parents siding with educators.
Members of all four teacher unions will continue to hit the bricks in rotating strikes that have created a patchwork schedule for students across Ontario.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is conducting a one-day, province-wide walkout Tuesday.
As reported by theToronto Sun’sBrian Lilley, pollster John Wright, of DART, found that the government’s position is weakening as the job action drags on.
Even though a majority of those polled want the government to use its legislative hammer to force an end to the strikes, more people side with the teachers than the government. Teacher unions insist their members are fighting for students while the government argues the job action is all about compensation.
MPPs are scheduled to return to Ontario’s legislature next Tuesday, giving the government an opportunity to introduce a back-to-work bill.
Harvey Bischof, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, said teachers and education workers still believe there is a route to settle this dispute through negotiations.
While they’re aware that the government might legislate teachers back to work, it doesn’t make them more inclined to accept the government’s “destructive” proposals at the bargaining table, he said.
“If they legislate an end to job action, they’ll simply be ending my members’ ability to resist these destructive cuts to education,” Bischof said. “And, at which point, they will completely own all of the negative implications on our education system.”
Bischof said he believes parents are siding with teachers over issues like larger class sizes, student access to course options, supports for education workers and mandatory online learning.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce has repeatedly said that the main focus of teacher unions is compensation, noting they’ve asked for more than the 1% annual cap on public sector wage and benefit increases.
“Teacher union leaders think raising taxes on working people for higher compensation and benefits is a good idea. We disagree,” Lecce tweeted Monday.
ETFO President Sam Hammond responded: “Seriously! Every day you have a different spin and it’s not resonating, not with parents, and not with our members!”