February 20, 2020 - UPDATED

OECTA (representing elementary, secondary and occasional teachers) has announced strike action for the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board on Thursday, February 27th, should negotiations not be successful. This means that all of our elementary and secondary schools will be closed on that day. 

Week at a Glance for  February 17-21


Monday, February 17  Schools CLOSED for Family Day
Tuesday, February 18 Schools Open - Buses Running
Wednesday, February 19   Schools Open - Buses Running
Thursday, February 20 Schools Open - Buses Running 
Friday, February 21 Schools CLOSED - Buses Not Running

On February 12, the four major education unions in Ontario announced coordinated strike action for Friday, February 21st. As a result, all SMCDSB elementary and secondary schools will be closed on Friday, February 21.

OECTA (representing our elementary, secondary and occasional teachers) is escalating its job action beginning on Tuesday, February 11th, which will include the withdrawal of more services.

OSSTF (representing educational assistants, designated early childhood educators, office and clerical and maintenance staff) also continues to be engaged in job action. 


For information on the current labour negotiations, please see the FAQ and Labour Updates below.


What unions represent employees at the SMCDSB?

The following education workers are represented by unions:


  • Custodial Staff  - Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)


  • Educational Assistants  - Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF)


  • Designated Early Childhood Educators (DECE) - Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF)


  • Maintenance Staff - Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF)

 

  • Office and Clerical Workers - Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF)


  • Elementary Teachers - Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA)


  • Secondary Teachers - Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA)


  • Occasional Teachers - Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA)

How will labour action impact my child’s school?

OSSTF, which represents about 750 staff at SMCDSB including Educational Assistants (EAs), Designated Early Childhood Educators (DECEs), Office and Clerical and Maintenance workers began province-wide job action on Tuesday, November 26th which includes information pickets, limited withdrawal of service and rotating strike action.

OECTA, which represents 1,800 elementary, secondary and occasional teachers began province-wide job action on Monday, January 13th. Their job action includes information pickets, limited withdrawal of service as well as a rotating  strike action.


CUPE has reached a tentative agreement with the provincial government and Trustee Association. Beginning on Monday, October 7th our custodial staff will resume regular duties, which includes core services that were previously withdrawn during their work to rule campaign. 



What kind of job action can we expect?

On August 31, 2019, contracts expired for all employees represented by union groups at our board and across the entire province. This means that unions representing education workers across Ontario are currently engaged in collective bargaining processes in order to secure new contracts for their respective employee groups. Until negotiated settlements are reached, there is the potential for labour action with any or all of our unionized employee groups. 


At SMCDSB, unionized employee groups include elementary, secondary and occasional teachers (represented by OECTA), educational assistants, designated early childhood educators, office and clerical and maintenance staff (represented by OSSTF) and custodial staff (represented by CUPE)

To date: 

  • CUPE has successfully negotiated their collective agreement
  • OSSTF and OECTA have initiated job action which includes information pickets, rotating strikes and some withdrawal of services.

What is legal job action?

Legal job action includes work-to-rule campaigns, withdrawal of services, labour disruption and strikes. 

There is a prescribed process which each union must follow in order to be in a legal strike position. This includes holding a strike vote with its members and issuing a “No Board Report” with the Ministry of Labour. Union groups must also provide five days written notice of any strike action, including work-to-rule or labour disruption. Our Board will communicate labour updates, as they become available, with our school communities. 



Is it the provincial government or school board that is negotiating with union groups?

Publicly-funded education in Ontario uses a two-tier bargaining process:

  1. Central Bargaining which takes place between the Government of Ontario, union
    groups (central team) and the Trustees Associations. Central bargaining would include province-wide issues e.g., compensation, class sizes.
  2. Local Bargaining which takes place between the union groups (local team) and the District School Board. Local bargaining would include issues specific to each Board of Education e.g., management rights, contracting out.

This means that the central body of each union negotiates with the province AND their local units bargain with each individual school board. Different aspects of a collective agreement are negotiated at each level.


Will my child be asked to assist with jobs that are normally done by employees?

No. Our schools have been provided with clear instructions that students will not be asked to assist with jobs normally completed by unionized employees. 


Will job action affect my child’s learning environment?

We understand that a labour disruption can be unsettling and difficult for students, parents and school communities. As a Catholic school board, we respect the collective bargaining process and we are hopeful that a freely negotiated agreement is reached quickly.

The SMCDSB is committed to balancing the rights of our unionized staff with our collective goal of providing a safe and nurturing learning environment for our students. Escalating labour action will undoubtedly have an impact on your child’s learning environment. However, our Board is committed to assessing issues on a day by day and school by school basis so that we can make decisions that are in the best interest of our students. Your child’s safety and learning environment will always be at the forefront of our decision-making process.


How does job action impact co-curricular activities?

At this time, the job sanctions announced by OECTA do not include co-curricular activities. However, escalating labour action across the province could have an impact on how teams and clubs are organized at your child's  school. Please contact your child's school directly to find out more information.

Will labour action impact my child's report card?

One of the job sanctions announced by OECTA on January 8th includes not adding comments and learning skills on report cards. And not issuing progress report cards at the secondary level. 

Will my child be participating in EQAO assessments?

One of the job sanctions announced by OECTA on January 8th includes not participating in EQAO-related activities. The Grade 9 EQAO math assessment will not be taking place on January 16th. All families affected by this change will receive notification and more information directly from their school. 

Is their child care support available for children in elementary school?

The province of Ontario has announced funding support for parents. More information can be found on the Ministry of Education website.