Government is undermining democratic rights of Ontarians, say teachers

A sorry day for Ontario on International Human Rights Day

TORONTO, Dec. 10, 2012 /CNW/ - As countries around the world celebrate International Human Rights Day today, Ontario public elementary teachers and education professionals have been forced into one-day strikes starting today to protest the loss of their fundamental rights.

"Bill 115 threatens the very democratic values and institutions like public education that have built Ontario," said Sam Hammond President of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO). "How unfortunate that the premier of this province has today trivialized this most important fight against Bill 115 as a disagreement over pay."

"The education sector's response to Bill 115 is not about a wage freeze or pause in salaries. This strike action is about the government's unprecedented interference in the right to collectively bargain, a legal right provided for all people under Ontario law."

Bill 115 gives the Ontario education minister unprecedented powers to impose collective agreements on school boards and locals, removing autonomy from boards and ETFO locals that want to find fair, respectful solutions. The bill not only puts the minister above the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Ontario Labour Relations Act, it allows no judicial appeal in provincial courts - a tactic rarely if ever used in democracies.

"In democratic votes earlier this fall, teachers, occasional teachers, designated early childhood educators, professional support personnel, and educational support personnel voted overwhelmingly for strike action if warranted to protest the loss of their rights resulting from Bill 115," added Hammond.

"It is a sorry day for democracy in Ontario when educators are forced to strike because this government thinks nothing of trampling on their fundamental rights. Ontarians need to ask themselves - if this can happen to teachers, then who is next?"

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario represents 76,000 elementary public school teachers and education professionals across the province and is the largest teacher federation in Canada.

SOURCE: Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario

For further information:

Valerie Dugale, ETFO Media Relations- Cell: 416-948-0195, vdugale@etfo.org