Teachers’ Strike Days Affect More than Students’ Day-to-Day Learning

Teachers gathered outside City Hall on February 21st for a province-wide strike. Photo by Kaihang Jiang.

The majority party in Ontario’s parliament is the Conservative Party, and I think that the latest Ontario teachers’ job action is impacting the support of the party.

People have gradually stopped trusting such a government.

It started in the middle of semester 1 this school year, when teachers began to strike on school days: they haven’t gone to work on those days, so students have been forced to stay at home.

These strike days have lasted without any signs of progress. In fact, the situation is gradually getting worse and worse, because it was started by only a few teachers’ unions, but now all teachers’ unions are taking action, and a lot of unions haven’t even had many scheduled bargaining days with the provincial government.

Recently, the provincial government publicly announced its intention to meet the demands from the teachers’ unions, but they actually have not yet shown any “real” documentation at the negotiation table with different teachers’ unions.

The whole issue started because of the controversial policies in education introduced by the Ontario government when they cut the funding of education. 

For these teachers’ strikes, teachers are for them, the provincial government is against them, and the biggest impact is on students. Students have different opinions on this topic.

I interviewed several students at WCI to understand their reactions to this situation. Some students used to support Conservative Party but no longer support them after the teachers’ job actions have lasted so long.

Albert C, a grade 12 student told me, “I don’t like the conservatives now, I used to support them but not anymore.”

Albert does not worry about the strike days very much. He said, “My studies aren’t really affected at all, I mean we had four snow days last year and none this year, so going on strike for one day is acceptable.”

Some students I interviewed felt that the strike does affect their studies. Hammad M, also a grade 12 student, said, “Due to all those strikes I think we all will be running behind the schedule and that would be really stressful.”

Not many students have experienced any form of strike before, but students like Hammad stand together with teachers. Most students I interviewed think that the strike will end very soon, but Hammad said, “I don’t see the conflict lasting very long. I think very shortly the government will open up negotiations because they can see the teachers are not backing off from the fight for their and students’ rights.”

I also interviewed several teachers at WCI. I found that teachers are united together and take a strong position on the situation. All five teachers I interviewed support the strike actions, and they claim that they do this for their students. These teachers criticized the Ford government, and they personally thought that other voters will not trust Conservative Party in the future.

Ms. Amaral, an English and Drama teacher, said, “My opinion about the Ford Government is they are not transparent to the public. They underestimate the integrity and strength of education workers, and it is shameful they want to destroy public education. My opinion about the conservative party is they made a severe mistake in choosing Doug Ford as their leader. I believe their party will lose a lot of support from Ontario after the strike is over.”

Teachers I interviewed all think these actions are worth it as long as the provincial government satisfies demands in the future.

“I’d like to hope that we can come to a resolution by the end of the school year, but I’m not sure how likely that outcome is,” Amaral shared with me.

Amaral and other teachers explained that the strikes are affecting their schedules and class set-up to a great extent.

These strike days are not only affecting students’ day-to-day learning but potential support for political party as well.