Four major teachers’ unions in Ontario, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, the Association des enseignanteset des enseignantsfranco-ontariens, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ have threatened to file complaints after the Ontario government failed to address their distresses. The unions have been in disagreement with the Premier Doug Ford’s government regarding the reopening of schools. The unions allege the school reopening plan does not take “every reasonable precaution” to protect workers from COVID-19.
The unions have criticized the province’s strategy of reopening schools without a reduction in class sizes. The unions, along with the school board and several parents, want the province to reduce the class sizes and fund the discount. Last week, the union asked the Ministry of Labour to give a series of workplace guidelines to set safety standards in schools. The unions said the Labour Ministry should order standards that mandate 15 to 20 students per class to ensure a two-meter distance can be maintained between pupils. OSSTF president Harvey Bischof said no employee in the state of Ontario ought to sacrifice their safety, particularly when there are such apparent actions the government could be taking to decrease the risk and prevent potential tragedies.
Ford has continuously criticized the unions in recent weeks. He said that the teachers’ unions had fought with every Ontario government since the 1990s. Furthermore, he said no matter what they did, it’s not going to be good enough because teachers like to fight. Conversely, Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said he could not comment on the complaints, but the government inspectors had been in contact with school boards and staff on the restart. He said his role in that process was as a neutral overseer. Besides, McNaughton said he would not play politics with such an important issue.