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Provincewide strike sees two million Ont. schoolchildren out of class

Provincewide strike sees two million Ont. schoolchildren out of class
Canada
TORONTO -- For the first time in 24 years all four major teachers unions in Ontario are on strike the same day, shutting the provinces public education system and leaving more than two million school children out of class.

The unions, representing nearly 200,000 teachers and education workers, are calling on the government to back down on cuts to education.

Ontarios Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the students should be in school instead.

The decision point to escalate rests with the teacher unions, who have made the decision to escalate against each and every premier over the course of the past 30 years, Lecce said.

"Parents are losing patience with the union-caused disruption in their lives, the inconsistency in their children s education and the financial impact of scrambling for alternate care."

Lecce has repeatedly said the key sticking point in negotiations with high school teachers is compensation, with unions demanding a roughly two-per-cent wage increase and the government offering one per cent.

The unions, namely the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (EFTO), the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF), the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) and Association des Enseignantes et des Enseignants Franco-Ontariens (AEFO) , are angry that the government announced last March it would increase average high school class sizes from 22 to 28 and require students to take four e-learning courses to graduate.

The government has partly backed down on both issues with Lecce offering instead to increase average high school class sizes to 25 and require two online learning courses.

With a provincewide class size average of 22.5, the move to increase class size has already led to schools offering hundreds fewer courses.
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