Brief update on negotiations

On December 3, Ontario public high school teachers took part in a one-day strike. The strike was preceded by days of deliberation. The provincial government claims the dispute between both parties is related to wages. The province has passed a bill to cap wage increases for all public sector workers at 1 percent, however, high school teachers are asking for a 2 percent increase to account for inflation.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce claims that accepting all of the OSSTF’s (Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation) terms would cost the province approximately $7 billion by 2022 if those terms are then extended to the other unions across the education sector.

A second day of withdrawal from services by high school teachers was held on December 11, following unsuccessful labour negotiations. The strike action was backed by teachers and occasional teachers by 95.5 percent while 92 percent of education workers also supported the possible walkout.

Class size has also been a major topic of debate. The provincial government is looking to raise the number of students in high school classrooms to an average of 25, an increase from last year’s average class size of 22. The original proposed class size was 28, which would phase out thousands of teaching jobs and course options. The Ontario Student Trustees Association is against this change as they initially requested for class sizes to remain at an average of 22 students.

The province also wants to mandate two online credits for students. If approved, this would be a first in North America. The province’s original proposal was four required credits in classes that would average 35 students.