TORONTO — Public elementary teachers are on strike at several Ontario boards today including the largest one, in Toronto.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario resumes its rotating strikes today, a day after a provincewide walkout.

Teachers are walking the picket lines in the Algoma, Greater Essex County, Hamilton-Wentworth, Limestone, Moosonee, Moose Factory, Niagara, Toronto, Waterloo and York Region school boards as well as the Bloorview, John McGivney Children’s Centre, KidsAbility, and Niagara Peninsula Children’s Centre school authorities, and early childhood educators at the Toronto Catholic board.

Union president Sam Hammond has said the union was close to a deal with the government after three days of talks last week, but the province’s negotiators suddenly tabled new proposals at the 11th hour that ETFO couldn’t accept.

He says key issues include special education funding, full-day kindergarten, hiring regulations and addressing classroom violence.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce says teachers are escalating strikes to advance higher compensation.

Unions are asking for wage increases of around two per cent to keep up with inflation, but the government passed legislation last year capping wage hikes for all public sector workers at one per cent for three years. The teachers’ unions and several others are fighting the law in court, arguing it infringes on collective bargaining rights.

All four major teachers’ unions are engaged in job action, but only one — the union representing teachers in the French system — is still in bargaining.

ETFO is planning a second provincewide strike for Feb. 11.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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