Thousands of teachers are rallying at Queen’s Park on this bright sunny day in Toronto as Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association and the Association of Franco-Ontarian Teachers (AEFO), are both holding province-wide strikes, even though the Ontario Government have backed down on most of its proposals including mandatory e-learning and large class sizes.
The Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers’ Federation are holding rotating strikes in nine boards, including the Toronto District School Board, and thousands are also rallying at Queen’s Park along with OECTA and AEFO.
A deal is not yet agreed upon and the elementary teachers are saying Ontario’s proposal of 23 students per class means Elementary class sizes from grades four to eight would still increase by one student each.
Speaking with CP24 on Thursday, the president of the Toronto chapter of OSSTF said that her union estimates that the increase in this average class size to 23 will still result in the elimination of 275 teaching jobs in the city.
“Each of those teachers teaches six courses so that is over 1,400 classes and courses disappearing from schools across Toronto,” Leslie Wolf said. “We are here today to say to Minister Lecce and to Premier Ford that what we said a year ago still holds and that is that there is no need to cut education funding. No cuts means no cuts.”
An estimated 15,000 people attended today’s rally at Queen’s Park, which began at around 9:30 a.m. representing three of the province’s four teachers unions. The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario were the only non-participants, putting rotating strikes on hold but say that it plans to escalate to the next phase of its job action campaign on March 9 if they are still without a deal.
The rally is the second major teacher’s protest to take place at Queen’s Park and be aware that getting around in that area of downtown will be more of a challenge today.