High school teachers in Northern Ontario's Rainbow District School Board will go on strike on Monday if a day of bargaining scheduled for Saturday does not produce a local agreement. A strike would cancel classes and extracurricular activities for all students in Grades 9-12.
And Ontario's elementary school teachers could be on the picket lines by May 10, after negotiations between between the Elementary School Teachers' Federation and the province broke down.
This is the first time the province, school boards and teachers' unions have negotiated under a new system that divides the process into parallel sets of talks. Issues such as day-to-day working conditions are negotiated between the teachers' local bargaining units and the school boards. Issues, such as wages and class size, are negotiated at a central table with the province.
The union for teachers in the Peel District School Board has also served a strike notice, with a walkout set for May 4 if a local agreement is not reached. Two more bargaining days between the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation and the Peel District board are scheduled before the deadline.
Rainbow District teachers would be the second group of Ontario secondary school instructors to strike; teachers in Durham walked off the job on Monday.
In an April 23 letter to parents, the Rainbow board encouraged students "to continue their learning through self-directed study" if a strike occurs.
School board representatives from Durham, Rainbow and Peel confirmed that interim marks for Grade 12 students applying to postsecondary programs have already been submitted, but some students are worried about how strikes could affect their university applications.
Durham College director of student recruitment and admission services Lisa White said the school has received "a number of calls" from students about their eligibility in the event of a prolonged strike. She said the college's admissions process has not changed, and the school is watching the situation closely.
"The issue is being discussed at a provincial level as it impacts all colleges in Ontario," she said in an e-mail interview. "A co-ordinated approach would be taken should the strike continue into the summer."
Ms. White said the college "will make any necessary process changes" to make sure students affected by strikes are not at a disadvantage. A representative of York University said officials there are also monitoring the situation, but it is "premature" to determine whether strikes would affect admissions.
OSSTF has designated seven school boards in Ontario for possible strike action.
With a report from The Canadian Press