All elementary, secondary, Catholic closed Feb. 21 for one-day strike

Members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation in the Kenora area were out at an information picket in Kenora's Market Square on Wednesday, Nov. 27. Zahraa Hmood / Miner and News

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The four major teacher’s unions are joining together in a province-wide, one-day strike that will close all schools – elementary and high school in public and Catholic school boards – on Friday, Feb. 21, including schools in the Kenora district.

According to a joint statement from the four unions, this is the first time since 1997 that teachers and education workers from Ontario’s main education affiliates will all be out of their classrooms on the same day: they include the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Association (OSSTF), the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) and the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO).

Friday’s strike could implicate over 1,200 teachers and education staff in the Kenora district, including 475 ETFO members, 675 OSSTF members and 124 OECTA members.

“Educators in every school board will not stay silent as the Ford government proceeds to decimate our publicly funded education system,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond in a joint statement from the four unions on Wednesday, Feb. 12. “Our unions and members helped build Ontario’s world-class education system. By not seriously addressing the issues critical to students and student learning, the Ford government has made a sham of contract talks over the last seven months.”

The province and unions have been in dispute over several planned changes to Ontario schools, including class size increases and the introduction of mandatory online learning courses. Education minister Stephen Lecce has called for private mediation between the government and the unions.

“Parents are losing patience with the disruption in their lives, the inconsistency in their children’s education, and the financial impact of scrambling for child care,” he said in his Wednesday statement. This one-day strike is the latest strike action from unions like ETFO, OSSTF and OECTA following a series of rotating strikes throughout this school year.