The new Director of Education for the Thames Valley District School Board says he’s “cautiously optimistic” a change in approach in recent weeks by the provincial government could head off any potential labour unrest at elementary and secondary schools.
Mark Fisher, who officially assumed his post on Monday, says the board is hopeful the collective bargaining process will unfold productively.
“So some of the initial announcements about the larger class sizes have seemed to dissipate a little bit with some of the recent announcements and we're hoping that we can kind of enter into collective bargaining and work through those things in a way that's going to be productive for both sides,” Fisher says.
While Premier Doug Ford has been seen as antagonistic with teachers’ unions, MPP Stephen Lecce, who took over as education minister in June, has been more conciliatory towards unions.
Contracts with the unions representing teachers, and education support staff expired over the long weekend. None of the unions is in a legal strike position as of yet.
Parent Wil Elejel, who has children at Sir Isaac Brock public school in London, said he’s hopeful there will be no disruptions.
“I hope not. I hope both sides will be smart enough and wise enough to make the right decisions and right choices for the young people that are going to lead our country one day.”
The union representing 55,000 education workers in Ontario is asking for a strike mandate from its members.
CUPE's Ontario School Board Council of Unions says the custodians, clerical workers and educational assistants it represents begin a strike vote Tuesday.
Union president Laura Walton says she expects workers will give the union a "strong" mandate when voting finishes in two weeks