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Aug. 13, 2020 | Thursday
Local News
Virgil Catholic teachers join second provincewide strike

Teachers from St. Michael Catholic Elementary School in Virgil were back on the picket line Tuesday morning to strike against provincial government cuts to education after no deal was reached between the province and the union.

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association was holding its second provincewide strike with one-day walkouts in Niagara and across Ontario. No future dates have been set yet for when both parties will return to a bargaining table.

“We remain available to meet at the negotiating table at any time, to engage in good-faith bargaining, and reach a deal that provides stability for our students and keeps them in class,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in a statement Monday.

Some of the concerns expressed by the Catholic teachers’ union include increased average class sizes, elimination of the Local Priorities Fund and mandatory e-learning. Teachers are also asking for more support for special needs students and a committment to the full-day kindergarten program.

As Catholic teachers walked off the job at different locations across Niagara, St. Michael school teachers picketed for two hours at Notre Dame Elementary School in Niagara Falls, along with teachers from Mary Ward Catholic Elementary and St. Patrick Catholic schools.

St. Michael’s French teacher Carolann Battersby said parents and students were supportive of them and understanding that teachers are striking for the benefit of students.

“I’m hopeful the government will see how the changes will be detrimental to students and that (the government) will change their mind and reverse the cuts,” Battersby told The Lake Report.

“We know these cuts will have a devastating effect on all our students in the long term. Either we stop them now or our students get hurt by it.”

Niagara bargaining unit president Marie Balanowski said the response from the community has been positive, although there was an incident when one picketing teacher was bumped by a maroon Dodge Caravan.

Niagara Regional Police spokesperson Const. Philip Gavin confirmed the police received a call at 10:55 a.m. Tuesday regarding the incident.

“Nothing further has been done at this point at the complainant’s request,” Gavin said in an email to The Lake Report.

Meanwhile, public elementary school teachers across Niagara, including Crossroads Public School and St. Davids Public School, plan to stage their own walkout on Feb. 6 and 7.