Reimburse childcare costs, says trustee
Parents who had to pay extra childcare costs or had to take time away from work due to any teacher strike action should be compensated immediately by the provincial government, says a Waterloo Region...
Elementary public school teachers protested Bill 115 during rotating strikes last December.
Parents who had to pay extra childcare costs or had to take time away from work due to any teacher strike action should be compensated immediately by the provincial government, says a Waterloo Region District School Board trustee.
Mike Ramsay says the public school board should petition the government as a means of supporting parents who had to pay out-of-pocket expenses or who may be penalized for having to take time off from work in the event of school closures due to strikes.
“At a bare minimum, this should include a reimbursement to help offset child care costs incurred by parents,” Ramsey told the Cambridge Times, “and I also hope there will be protection for parents who must be absent from work to care for children missing school.”
He cautioned that the request should not be construed as anti-teacher sentiment.
“The proposed strike is unfair to students and parents. They should not be punished for the actions of the parties to the issue.”
The comments came while deliberations were underway at an emergency meeting of the Ontario Labour Relations Board Thursday. Premier Dalton McGuinty asked the labour board for a cease and desist order to prevent a walk-out Friday by members of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario.
Parents were left in the lurch Thursday after, after being told they would have to monitor news outlets and the region’s public school board website to find out if schools were open or closed Friday.
With the board hearing only beginning at 3 p.m. Thursday, school district officials had to resort to sending letters home with children advising parents to stay tuned to news outlets and the board’s website for any announcements.
The school board had announced Wednesday it would close all of its elementary schools due to the teachers’ job action, but then had to place that decision in limbo Thursday afternoon. The school board was forced to wait for the labour board’s decision, just in case it directed Ontario’s public elementary teachers back to work Friday.
A labour board ruling was expected after the Cambridge Times press deadline Thursday evening. Follow updates on the board ruling via @cambridgetimes and @wrdsb.
Leaders at the elementary teachers union stunned the province Wednesday by announcing a one-day “political protest” calling for elementary teachers in all public boards to walk off the job Friday.
The union has argued that the government trampled rights to free collective bargaining by imposing the controversial Bill 115 and contracts that will freeze wages for two years and reduce sick days.
While the law makes any strike activity illegal, the union took the position that walking off the job was not strike action, but rather a protest.
McGuinty disagreed, arguing teachers are no longer in a legal strike position, and any teachers who withdraw their services would be breaking the law. The premier tried to appeal to teachers, who he maintains are “law-abiding citizens”.
Under the Ontario Labour Relations Act, teachers could be fined $2,000 each if they were found to be striking illegally.
Meanwhile, the union representing public high school teachers announced protests of its own. The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation planned a “political protest” on Jan. 16.
Late last year, teachers’ unions voted to engage in one-day rotating strikes once they entered a legal strike position. Although the now-invoked Bill 115 prohibits strikes, unions maintain the majority of members voted to continue with protests if the bill was imposed.
The high school teachers’ union said teachers will picket board or MPP offices, and won’t be volunteering.
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