It is indeed interesting times in Ontario’s education system.
For the first time in more than two decades, every teachers’ union in the province is in a legal strike position.
Elementary and Catholic educators have joined their secondary school colleagues on the picket lines for one-day strikes this week.
But the Ford government showed it’s truly capable of throwing a curve-ball when Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced the province would be offering financial assistance to parents of children who miss school or child care due to strikes.
Union officials quickly called it a case of the government offering a “bribe” to parents.
Providing financial support to parents is understandably fair step at this point, as students and their families have been thrust into an increasingly inconvenient and frustrating position throughout the current labour battles between unions and the government.
Parents could potentially receive up to $60 per strike day, depending on their child’s individual situation, and there were 12,000 applicants on the first day alone, so it’s apparent this is something people will take advantage of.
While it’s commendable parents will be compensated for time their children are out of class, neither side of this conflict seem, at this point, willing to adopt the “give and take” attitude required in labour negotiations.
Money alone won’t bring piece of mind to parents who are never sure if they’ll have to change their schedule or students who are facing interruptions to their valuable education.
The province and unions should seriously set aside any differences, stop with the political jargon, and find common ground to keep students in class. Every day teachers and the province don’t work together will cost both students and their families heavily moving forward.