#RedforEd Goes International: Teachers Strike in Ontario, Canada

#RedforEd Goes International: Teachers Strike in Ontario, Canada
CBC News/YouTube

The #RedforEd movement continued its international expansion into Canada on Wednesday when an estimated 60,000 public school teachers and support staff went on a one-day strike in the province of Ontario.

The strike was called by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) over the status of contract negotiations with the Ontario provincial administration of Premier Doug Ford, whom the New York Times called Canada’s Donald Trump shortly before his election in 2018:

He is a wealthy businessman whose favorite political targets are “elites” he describes as drinking champagne “with their pinkies up in the air.” He hates government, but is running to lead one with a $121.7-billion budget, confident he will root out waste with his well-honed business acumen.

And he has a history of publicly attacking the media and public figures he considers disloyal.

It’s not hard to see why Doug Ford, the golden-haired former football player fighting to be the next premier of Ontario, has been compared to President Trump.

“You’ve seen jobs lost — 300,000 manufacturing jobs — in 15 years,” Mr. Ford said at a packed rally in a windowless hall in a Toronto suburb last week. “Oh, we’re bringing them back, don’t you worry.”

As Breitbart News first reported in February, the #RedforEd movement began in Arizona in March 2018 with the objective of influencing the 2020 presidential election:

A well-funded and subversive leftist movement of teachers in the United States threatens to tilt the political balance nationwide in the direction of Democrats across the country as Republicans barely hang on in key states that they need to hold for President Donald Trump to win re-election and for Republicans to have a shot at retaking the House and holding onto their Senate majority.

This teachers union effort, called #RedforEd, has its roots in the very same socialism that President Trump vowed in his 2019 State of the Union address to stop, and it began in its current form in early 2018 in a far-flung corner of the country before spreading nationally. Its stated goals–higher teacher pay and better education conditions–are overshadowed by a more malevolent political agenda: a leftist Democrat uprising designed to flip purple or red states to blue, using the might of a significant part of the education system as its lever.

The CBC reported the details of the one-day strike:

A major Ontario teachers’ union and the province failed to come up with a deal to avoid a high school teacher walkout today, fully or partially closing most area schools.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) has been without a contract since the end of August and started a work-to-rule campaign last week.

The walkout means all public schools in Ottawa and all French schools in eastern Ontario are closed — including elementary schools, because school boards have said a lack of striking support workers would make schools unsafe.

Toronto Sun columnist Brian Lilley outlined the differences between the Ford administration and OSSTF over class size, online education, and teacher compensation:

“We made significant changes to our bargaining position. What has not transpired is any change at all by the teachers unions,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce said at Queen’s Park during question period on Monday.

Lecce, who took over the education file in June, has cut government demands on class size increases and online courses.

While the government originally wanted to boost the average high school class size from 22 to 28, they have moved that figure down to 25. Class sizes for Kindergarten through Grade 3 have not changed at all while middle school grades increased by an average of one student. As for online courses, the government originally wanted students to take four courses between Grades 9 and 12 and reduced that number to two courses over their high school career.

The union says it’s not good enough.

“Those are not concessions,” OSSTF President Harvey Bischof told CP24 on Monday.

Bischof went on to say that he will only accept an average class size of 22 and doesn’t want any online courses for students. Oh, and he still wants a 2% wage hike for his very well paid members. Have I mentioned the average teacher in Ontario earns $92,000 a year, plus benefits, pensions and their three months off?

According to Statistics Canada, the national statistics office for the Canadian government, the average starting salary for public school teachers in Ontario primary and lower secondary schools during the 2014-2015 academic year was $51,263. The average salary after ten years of experience was $94,612.

Wednesday’s strike followed “six days of information picketing,” which OSSTF President Harvey Bischof described in a statement released last week as “a job action carefully devised to have no impact on students.”

“It’s clear from these past two days of bargaining, however, that our action is having no impact on the tone or substance of negotiations,” Bischoff said in that statement, adding:

Through months of bargaining, the management team has avoided any meaningful discussion of class size, staffing, mandatory e-learning, or any other issue that impacts the quality of student learning. Even in light of our current job action, far too little has changed at the table. We are left with no choice but to intensify our efforts to defend our education system against a government that has already begun to sabotage it.

We do recognize that our one-day walkout will cause short-term disruption in the lives of students and parents, and we are disappointed that we’ve been driven to take this job action. We cannot, however, stand aside and do nothing while the long-term interests of students are being compromised by the Ford government.

On Wednesday, the Education Minister Stephen Lecce of the Ford administration pushed back in an interview with CP 24:

Lecce called the one-day strike “unacceptable.”

“To the parents of this province, I find it absolutely unacceptable that their children are not in class this morning. We have been consistently focused on keeping them in class, being as reasonable as possible. The fact is on compensation, this is the fundamental issue,” he said.

“I value our educators. These are good people … the fact is educators in Ontario are the second-highest compensated in the nation. They are high paid, they are well paid, and we value they contribution to public service, but at the end of the day, we are offering one per cent. It is a reasonable constructive approach.”

Lecce has blamed the union for a lack of significant progress since bargaining began more than 200 days ago and questioned their decision to hold a strike before “utilizing every tool in the toolkit.”

“If you stand with kids, if you support the future of their education, I find it very curious to walk out on them for a day or for any period of time,” he said. “That doesn’t actually aid children’s education.”

Late Wednesday, the communications arm of the OSSTF tweeted these pictures of the group’s striking teachers:

OSSTF President Bischoff followed up with this tweet.

The largest elementary school teachers’ union in Ontario tweeted their #RedforEd solidarity with OSSTF:

Wednesday’s strike in Ontario is another indication of the growing political power of the #RedforEd movement in Canada, which Breitbart News first reported on in June.

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