Worried about teachers' strikes next week? Here's how they could impact your family

Talks between Ontario's teachers' unions and the provincial government have broken down and job action is ramping up.

Now that all four of the province's major education unions are taking part in some form of labour action, here's a look at how your family could be impacted next week. 

Rotating 1-day strikes

Monday, Jan. 20

Unless a deal is reached with the province by the end of this week — and that doesn't appear likely given recent developments — the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) will begin rotating, one-day strikes on Monday. 

ETFO's first strike will affect the following boards: 

  • Toronto District School Board.
  • Toronto Catholic District School Board (only Designated Early Childhood Educators, DECEs).
  • York Region District School Board.
  • Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.

The Toronto Catholic board says that during Monday's walk out, administrative and support staff will be reassigned to fill the roles of early childhood educators. 

Tuesday, Jan. 21

Both the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association (OECTA) will join ETFO in another one-day strike that will affect boards across the province.

OECTA's strike means teachers in publicly-funded, English Catholic school boards across Ontario will not be reporting to work or performing any of their duties.

OSSTF's strike will affect the following boards:

  • Rainy River District School Board.
  • Near North District School Board.
  • Grand Erie District School Board.
  • Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board.
  • Toronto District School Board.
  • Simcoe County District School Board.
  • Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board.
  • Trillium Lakelands District School Board.
  • Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board.

Important to note: All French Catholic and public schools will be affected by the strike, since the education workers and support staff at those schools are part of the OSSTF.

Meanwhile, exams are next week for most high school students across the province. The Toronto public board confirmed any exams scheduled for Tuesday will have to be rescheduled. OSSTF has said that after Tuesday's action, its members will not strike action during the high school exam period.

ETFO's strike on Tuesday will affect the following boards: 

  • Grand Erie District School Board.
  • Trillium Lakelands School Board. 
  • Renfrew County District School Board.
  • Superior-Greenstone District School Board.

Wednesday, Jan. 22

ETFO will hold another one-day strike that will impact the following boards:

  • Thames Valley District School Board.
  • Rainbow District School Board.
  • Rainy River District School Board.

Province paying up to $60/day per child during strikes

The province has offered up to $60 a day, per child, to parents whose children would be affected by the strikes.

Parents are eligible if their children are 12 years old or younger and are enrolled in a publicly-funded school or a school-based child-care centre that will close due to the strike. Also eligible are parents with children up to the age of 21 with special needs who are enrolled in a publicly-funded school. 

The details of the compensation are as follows:

  • $60 per day for children up to 6 years old who are not yet enrolled in school but attend a school-based child-care centre closed by the strikes.
  • $40 per day for students in junior or senior kindergarten.
  • $25 per day for students in Grades 1 to 7.
  • $40 total per day for students in junior kindergarten to Grade 12 (or aged 21 and under) with special needs.

According to the Ministry of Education, parents only have to sign up once to get a payment each time there is a strike affecting their child. Once they do, the money will be directly deposited into their bank account. 

The ministry says that as of Thursday morning, more than 33,000 people have applied for compensation. If all the teachers' unions were to strike at the same time, more than one million children would be eligible for a subsidy.

Sam Hammond, president of ETFO, said the province's compensation offer amounts to a "bribe."

"The minister of education in this province blatantly — in a very transparent way — is trying to bribe parents to get their support in this ongoing battle," Hammond said this week.

Work-to-rule campaigns

Work-to-rule campaigns are a limited withdrawal of some services, which means different things for different unions. 

The OSSTF has been on a work-to-rule campaign since November. This means high school teachers have not completed ministry data reports or participated in ministry, or school board-driven, professional activities.

Thursday, the union representing Ontario's French-language teachers, Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO), started work-to-rule job action, which affected mostly administrative tasks. 

For the OECTA, the action includes not participating in standardized testing, preparing report cards or participating in Ministry of Education initiatives.

ETFO ramped up their work-to-rule action on Monday, meaning teachers won't be supervising extra-curricular activities outside regular school hours, participating in field trips, or participating in assemblies, except to supervise students.