Ontario government has yet to put its words into print, says OSSTF president
BARRIE -- Hundreds of education workers and teachers swarmed the sidewalks in Orillia to greet Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation President Harvey Bischof.
The OSSTF president said the province has been stalling negotiations with announcements that don't go further than the podium.
"We're prepared to negotiate. We're prepared to find creative solutions."
Despite the government saying it was backing down on two key issues, Bischof insisted now is not the time for his union to lose steam.
On Tuesday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the province would freeze public high school class sizes to 23 and moved on another sticking point, e-learning, saying parents would be able to opt their children out.
"Let's be clear, that's not bringing the class size down. That's still rising the class size from last year," the OSSTF president said, surrounded by union members holding picket signs today. "It still involves the removal of something like 1,800 secondary teachers from the system who were in classes last year serving the students face to face, providing course options for students, so that's not an improvement."
Bischof made his way from picket line to picket line across Ontario on Thursday as education workers from three of the four major unions held walkouts.
After weeks of rotating strikes, frustration is mounting.
"The minister interrupted the discussions we were having with his own representatives on Tuesday in order to, once again, get to a podium and make an announcement," the union president said.
Bischof claims they have yet to see the Education Minister Stephen Lecce's recent announcements in print.
As for getting back to the table, Bischof said no new bargaining dates for OSSTF are set.
"If we get a signal from the mediator that the government is prepared to actually bargain, to negotiate with flexibility and creativity, we'll be back at the table in a heartbeat."
No new strike dates have been set at this point, but the union isn't ruling anything out until a deal is reached.