Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Teachers walk the picket line in downtown Wallaceburg

Dozens of teachers from the area took to the streets of downtown Wallaceburg on Tuesday, February 4, during a one-day strike by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF).

Jennifer Kumpf, president of OSSTF District 10, told the Sydenham Current the teachers are standing up and speaking for the students.

“OSSTF members are walking the line today because we are showing solidarity in defending public education,” Kumpf said.

“There is some really heinous cuts that have been proposed and we just can’t stand for them. It’s not what is good for kids. We feel an obligation to stand up and speak for the kids.”

Kumpf said the teachers understand strike days can be difficult for parents.

“We do want to acknowledge that we understand it can be difficult in arranging child care or other things when there are strike days like this, but at the same time, it’s going to be an equally challenging situation when there are too many students in the classroom and they don’t have the supports that they need,” she said.

“It’s really important for us to make sure that the proposed cuts that are on the table are reversed and that we are back to having the supports that the kids need when they are in our care during the day.”

OSSTF members picketed and carried signs throughout downtown Wallaceburg, including in front of the constituency office for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton, which is located on James Street.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association were also on strike on Tuesday.

All elementary and secondary schools across the Lambton-Kent District School Board and the St. Clair Catholic District School Board were closed on Tuesday.

Classes are set to resume on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, said the government is ready to negotiate at any time.

“Our Government has continuously demonstrated our focus and desire to keeping kids in class through reaching an agreement with teachers’ unions,” he stated in a media release.

“We remain available to meet at the negotiating table at any time, to engage in good-faith bargaining, and reach a deal that provides stability for our students and keeps them in class.”

The mediator is establishing new dates for negotiations to continue, provincial officials say.

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