TORONTO - Thousands of elementary students in eight Ontario school boards — including the province's largest — will have no classes today as their teachers stage one-day strikes.
The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario says 35,000 teachers, including nearly 14,000 in Toronto, will be hitting the picket lines today.
Other school boards to be hit by strikes today are Peel, Durham, Waterloo, Greater Essex, Grand Erie and Lambton Kent in southern Ontario and the Near North board in central Ontario.
The ETFO says the one-day strikes are to protest controversial legislation that gives the provincial government the power to end strikes and impose a collective agreement on the teachers.
Federation president Sam Hammond says Education Minister Laurel Broten can end the rotating strikes by repealing Bill 115 and letting local bargaining proceed without interference.
To help parents in Toronto deal with the strike, the Royal Ontario Museum is offering a kids day for children aged five to 14 — at a cost of $65 per child.
The museum says the children will receive age-appropriate programming with the exploration of museum artifacts and hands-on activities.
And Second City will open the doors of its Toronto training centre offering a one-day youth improv camp for students in Grades 1 to 8 for $20 per student.
Although the governing Liberals have the power to end the teachers' strikes, they've said they will allow legal one-day walkouts to occur in all school boards if 72-hours notice is provided.
If the strikes extend beyond a day, however, the government said it has already prepared the necessary legal documents to end them.
Meanwhile, Progressive Conservative education critic Lisa MacLeod has called on Broten to use Bill 115 — which the Tories supported — to end the strikes.
"Union leaders are directly challenging your authority over our education system by planning a 'Super Tuesday' walkout in eight of Ontario's school boards," MacLeod said Monday in an open letter to Broten.
In Toronto, the teachers' union plans to set up a picket line at the education ministry offices, in addition to demonstrations at schools and the offices of local Liberal members of the legislature.
The union says a mass rally is planned in Durham Region, where teachers are to gather at a park and march through downtown Oshawa, Ont.
On Wednesday, more than 4,800 teachers with the Bluewater, Algoma, and Halton school boards will be staging a one-day walkout.