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  • Elementary teachers striking in front of the Ministry of Education, Toronto, Canada, Feb. 7. 2020.

    Elementary teachers striking in front of the Ministry of Education, Toronto, Canada, Feb. 7. 2020. | Photo: Twitter/ @ElemTeachersTO

Published 8 February 2020
Opinion

For the first time in the last 20 years, all major teacher unions will join their forces to reject budget cuts.

Over the last week, Canadian elementary school teachers have intensified their protest against Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford's policies, which seek to cut the number of teachers and increase the number of students per classroom.

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Instead, Canadian teachers demand more resources to serve students with special needs, the protection of the preschool education program, and fairer wages.

Despite having broad social support, these requests were not met by the authorities, which forced teachers to perform “rotating strikes” since January.

“The Ford administration does not want to discuss key issues... They just want to talk about cuts," said Sam Hammond, the president of the Ontario Primary Teachers Federation (ETFO), which gathers about 83,000 elementary teachers “committed to public education, social justice, and equity.”

For the first time in the last 20 years, all four of Ontario's major teacher unions are strongly linked and will go on strike on Feb. 11.

This demonstration will have the presence of the Association of Franco-Ontarian Teachers (AEFO), which brings together the workers of public and private French-speaking schools and is committed to promoting educational equity, transparency, solidarity, and inclusion.​​​​​​​​​​​​

The upcoming strike is also supported by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association (OECTA), which represents some 45,000 teachers, and the ​​​​​​​Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF), which brings together more than 60,000 workers.

"Imagine the outrage parents would have if the Canadian Hockey Sports Federation decided to increase the number of children on each team."

This is one of the smart phrases that teachers post on social networks to demonstrate the absurd consequences of fiscal austerity policies.

“Tell us if you are with us to protect and defend public education?" and "Support us to defend public education for future generations" are also some of the most widespread slogans.

During previous negotiations, Education Minister Stephen Lecce did not present proposals that Ontario's teachers could accept. The government remains outside the negotiating table.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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