TORONTO - Thousands of Toronto families can breathe a sigh of relief. There will be no disruption to classroom instruction for Catholic elementary school students in Toronto this week.
The ongoing labour dispute between the Toronto Elementary Catholic Teachers (TECT) and the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) prompted TECT to issue formal notice of a strike (January 25) which would have started January 31.
However, late Friday afternoon, Julie Altomare-DiNunzio, TECT president, issued an official statement saying they decided not to go ahead with the planned strike. “In a show of good faith and as a result of constructive dialogue with the TCDSB, Toronto Elementary Teachers have decided to pause our full withdrawal of services”, the TECT president said.
She continued to thank parents, students and communities for their continued “patience and understanding”. The local union maintains it is “dedicated to ensuring the best possible learning environments for our students”, and called for community support as TECT continues to work with the TCDSB to “reach a fair agreement that supports the needs of our teachers and students”.
Following TECT’s statement, the TCDSB sent a message to families that stated they “continue to engage in ongoing and constructive dialogue” and “remain committed to reaching a fair and just collective agreement with TECT”.
Unfortunately, the labour dispute between both parties persists with no resolution in sight. That could mean TECT could decide to withdraw instructional services again at any point in the future. The local union, which represents nearly 5,000 teachers at more than 100 Catholic school have been working without a contract since 2019.
Understanding how a potential full withdrawal of services could impact thousands of families, the TCDSB said they will “continue to ask TECT to provide five days’ notice of which schools will be affected and when”. That is little consolation for students and families that have experienced so much instructional disruption in the last two years of the pandemic.
P. Pajdo is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter