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Students bear brunt of strikes

(Cartoon by George Longley)

There is a storm brewing between the provincial government and Ontario’s secondary school educators as negotiations of new collective agreements are set to begin later this month.

This relationship has always been contentious at best.

From the mid-90s to early-2000s, the two sides have clashed consistently as the Harris government made education cuts while trying to balance the province’s books.

And it’s not just the Conservative governments that have earned the ire of the teacher’s unions.

When the Liberal government imposed Bill 115 in 2012, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation quickly instructed its members to stop their involvement in any extracurricular activities.

Three years later in 2015, as collective agreements were coming up for renegotiation, there were roving strikes across the province, forcing thousands of children out of the classroom.

Recently, both the teachers’ union and the provincial government have been launching rhetoric at each other.

Premier Doug Ford and other PC MPPs have accused the union of using students as a pawn in their campaign, while the OSSTF has stated the provincial government is on the road to “decimating” Ontario’s education system.

While both sides claim to have their respective best intentions for students, as the negotiations begin hopefully all involved realize it is those young learners who bear the brunt of any labour disputes.

Secondary school students already face a significant amount of stress and anxiety, as their grades play a tremendous role in their postsecondary choices and ultimately their career paths. In addition to their studies, many of them must also hold down part-time or full-time jobs.

The possibility of not being in the classroom come September is unneeded stress, especially for those entering their final year.

Over the spring and summer months, Ontario students should not become a victim of political grandstanding on part of both the government and the union.