Some parents in Ontario say they will be donating the government subsidy they receive back to teachers and into the education system.
The provincial government announced on Jan. 15 that it will give parents whose children are affected by the striking teachers between $25 and $60 per day as compensation. Parents can apply for reimbursement here.
The government said 139,000 people had applied as of Monday. Parents must apply separately for every child. They can choose to be paid by direct deposit, which will be sent weekly but may take at least two weeks to be seen in their account. Parents can also choose to be paid by cheque, which will come in one lump-sum payment at the end of the labour dispute.
Four different unions representing education workers have been without contracts since last August.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) began holding a series of weekly one-day rotating strikes in early December.
Two other unions, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) joined the OSSTF in holding strikes, which started Monday in Ottawa, York and Toronto.
Parents with children who are six years old and younger and are in a school-based child care centre will get $60 a day. Parents with children in kindergarten will get $40 a day and parents with children in Grade 1 to Grade 7 will get $25 a day.
Parents of secondary school students won’t get any funding, but those with children with special needs up to age 21 will get $40 per day.
“Right now, each parent at Kortright Hills is entitled to $25 for each day of strike, some ages even more,” wrote one parent on Facebook. “That is already $50 per child. Think of how many kids are at this school and all the money that could go back into the school.”
“Let’s show the schools we support them and what they are doing for our children,” she continued.
The government has previously stated that it spends approximately $60 million per day on teachers across the entire education system.
READ MORE: Where are Ontario teachers striking next?
Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce estimated the program to compensate parents could cost as much as $48 million per day if a full labour disruption across all systems were to occur.
At the time of the announcement, Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) president Sam Hammon slammed the plan, calling it “insulting” and a “bribe” to parents to get government support.
One parent started an online petition calling for the Ford government to “Take my bribe money and put it back in education!”
“The people of Ontario have spoken loud clear. We stand with the educators. Children with special needs, such as Autism have been hit particularly hard. The Ontario Autism Program has been cut and these children are being sent into a school system that is not able to support them,” the description on the petition reads.
“We cannot be bribed with our own money Premier Ford. Take the amount allotted for my child and put it back into education, where it belongs!”
So far, just over 25,000 people have signed the petition.
Another parent posted a screenshot to Facebook of an email she sent to her children’s teacher asking for a “list of things” they need in their classroom.
Global News reached out to Lecce’s office for comment on parents donating their funds but did not hear back by time of publication.
Strikes to continue
The rotating strikes will continue with the ETFO and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) striking once again on Tuesday. That strike will affect the Superior Greenstone District School Board, the Renfrew District School Board, the Grand Erie District School Board and the Ottawa-Carelton District School Board.
Another potential ETFO strike on Wednesday will affect the Rainy River District School Board, the Thames Valley District School Board and the Rainbow District School Board.
As for the OSSTF, teachers will hold a one-day strike Wednesday if a deal is not reached with the government by Tuesday. The strike will affect the following school boards:
• Rainy River District School Board.
• Near North District School Board.
• Grand Erie District School Board.
• Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board.
• Toronto District School Board.
• Simcoe County District School Board.
• Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board.
• Trillium Lakelands District School Board.
• Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board.
A fourth union, Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO), began a work-to-rule campaign on Jan. 16 which will see its members no longer completing some administrative duties.
For more information on where teachers are striking next, click here.
—With files from The Canadian Press and Global News’ Kevin Nielsen
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