October 2, 2020
TORONTO – Ontario’s four major education unions are deeply concerned by the decision of the Chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board to dismiss our health and safety case on the re-opening of schools based on jurisdictional grounds without even hearing the substantive evidence. The case presented by the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO), the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA), and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF/FEESO) challenged the lack of effective health and safety measures in the province’s Guide to Re-Opening Ontario Schools, which set out the legal requirements for re-opening schools.
The OLRB complaint sought to establish provincial standards on class size and distancing, cohorts for students and teachers, masking, ventilation and busing. Evidence to be presented, by knowledgeable experts, confirming that these issues must be addressed immediately in order to make our schools safe included:
The OLRB’s decision means that educators must put forward individual complaints about health and safety violations, one at a time, for adjudication. This is not a sensible approach to the problem of the pandemic.
Despite this decision, the four major education unions will continue to demand that the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labour and the Ford government protect educators, students and families from the COVID-19 pandemic. While the government is clearly preoccupied with finding ways to avoid responsibility, we believe Ontarians expect them to do everything they can to make schools as safe as possible, especially as we see cases of COVID-19 surging in our communities.
A media conference with union leaders, legal counsel and health and safety experts will be held next week.For more information, please contact any of the following media relations representatives:
AEFO – Marilyne Guevremont at 613-850-6410, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org ETFO – Valerie Dugale at 416-948-0195, or via email at email@example.com OECTA – Michelle Despault at 416-925-2493, ext. 509, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org OSSTF/FEESO – Paul Kossta at 416-751-8300, ext. 225, or via email at Paul.Kossta@osstf.ca