PETER CONRADI/Bullet News
Day-care facilities at schools will remain open Tuesday during the one-day strike by elementary teachers in Niagara. However, transportation to get children to and from those facilities is cancelled, along with all classes.
Childcare providers will continue to operate for children who are already registered. But Parents with children not currently registered in school-based child care facilities are encouraged to make alternate care arrangements for Tuesday, he District School Board of Niagara says in a release.
Bullet News was the first to report Thursday that the one-day, rotating strikes being held at school boards across the province to protest Bill 115 would come to Niagara next week.
Teachers in Niagara were informed of the strike by email during the day Thursday. Principals and administrators met the same day to discuss strategy. However, the District Board of Niagara office did not acknowledge the strike was happening until issuing a news release Friday morning. Parents told about the situation in letters that went home with children Friday afternoon.
DSBN spokesman Brett Sweney said Friday the board did not get official notification of the strike until earlier in the day. However, it was Board Chairman Kevin Maves who confirmed the action Thursday night to Bullet News, and the Board was also preparing the letters to go home with children the following day.
Parents at one Niagara school were upset the DSBN and the union did not make their intentions known sooner.
At one Niagara school, parents were being informed Thursday by daycare staff that the strike was coming. However, families were unable to obtain confirmation from school administration.
“This is terrible,” one parent said. “By the time we get the letter they will have left us with one business day to arrange childcare. This is awful.”
The union had vowed communities would receive 72 hours notice of any strikes. As of Thursday night, Niagara Falls MPP Kim Craitor said he had not been told of the strike.
Schools won’t be open for classes for “safety reasons” during the strike, Maves said.
“This is a very unfortunate situation. We believe that the best place for students is to be in class, continuing their education. We encourage the government to continue a dialogue with the teachers’ federation in order to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.”
On Thursday, Premier Dalton McGuinty said his government won’t put a stop to any legal, one-day teacher strikes – a position that has Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives claiming the government has lost control of the situation.
McGuinty made his comments in a statement issued regarding Monday’s scheduled one-day strikes in the Stratford area and northern Ontario, as well as the possibility of other similar actions elsewhere in Ontario in the coming days.
McGuinty said he’s “disappointed,” adding strike action places students “squarely in the middle of a dispute” between the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the government.
“(It’s a) dispute that we believe ETFO should pursue in the courts against the government, not in our classrooms against our students.”
Despite the “inconvenience” the government will not intervene at this point, he said.
“I understand this will be an inconvenience for parents as they make special arrangements, and it is regrettable for students to miss any time learning, even a day. However, a legal one-day strike action does not warrant the government’s intervention,” said McGuinty.
Classes and transportation will resume on Wednesday.
Tuesday’s strike action by ETFO members will not impact DSBN high schools, which will remain open.
- with files by John Robbins