'It's not about the money!' Teachers hit the picket lines for a second day
BARRIE -- Hundreds of teachers, educators and support staff across Simcoe County walked the picket lines Wednesday.
Members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation held a second one-day strike as the ongoing labour dispute with the province intensifies.
Stephanie Cortese has been a teacher for nine years in Barrie.
"It is not about money, and it never has been about money," she said. "That's why we get up every day. That's why we've chosen to do this for a living. That's why we're here. It's for our students."
Cortese and her colleagues protested outside schools and Barrie-Innisfil MPP Andrea Khanjin's office on Mapleview Dr. East.
The 1,400 teachers, support workers and front-line educators picketed for hours drawing encouragement from honking passersby from Barrie to Stayner and Orillia.
The local union says 100 jobs are at risk of being lost if the government cutbacks move forward.
"We're going to have classes with over 45 students in them," said Beth Dewey outside Barrie North Collegiate Institute.
The government aims to increase class sizes and introduce mandatory e-learning programs for high school students, which the union says will result in the loss of 5,000 education jobs across the province.
"This time of the year, it's not easy for anybody. Particularly those not making as much, and that's really what we're here to fight for," said Twin Lakes Secondary School strike captain Chris Lowery outside Monsignor Lee Catholic School in Orillia.
Lisa Day was one of the hundreds of veteran support staff workers walking the picket lines; she said she and her colleagues aren't paid fairly by the government for the work they do.
"Top pay is $38,000 a year. We get laid off for the summer, we aren't salary based, and we don't even make 40 hours a week."
Amanda Beausoleil joined striking members in Barrie in front of École élémentaire Catholique Frère-André.
"It's for now. It's for our future. It's for our future children that are coming into education," said Beausoleil. "So we need to stand together and show them we won't back down, and we're here for them."
Late today, the union and province agreed to return to the bargaining table, tentatively set for early next week.
The two sides haven't met since last week when the union representing public high school teachers and support staff walked off the job in the first one-day strike.