Hundreds of teachers, educational professionals and school support workers protested Friday afternoon outside of Premier Dalton McGuinty's office.
Credits: MARLO CAMERON/QMI AGENCY
Educators gathered outside Premier Dalton McGuinty's Ottawa South constituency office and MPP offices across the province Friday afternoon in a "Rally for Public Education and Democracy" to protest legislation passed by the Liberal government earlier this week.
Members from the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO), Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) were present to speak out against Bill 115 -- saying it strips them of their democratic rights -- and call for it to be repealed.
The bill froze wages, partially froze the salary grid, eliminated the ability for teachers to bank sick days and put an end to strikes for two years.
It's a move the unions are calling unconstitutional, saying their members have been stripped of their democratic rights, and are asking for the right to bargain collectively.
"We'd like to see the bill repealed, and we'd like to see them allow us to negotiate in a fair and respectful way at the local level," said Sam Hammond, president of the ETFO.
Hammond joined the hundreds of protesters as they marched and chanted in the pouring rain Friday, drawing cheers and whistles from the crowd as he spoke of solidarity.
Young and old showed support for the cause, including a group of high school students who were there to show support for their teachers.
"Teachers and education workers do what they do because they love it, and this has been an incredibly difficult couple of weeks to focus on the job while being distracted by the politics that are going on," said Susan Rab, a teacher and member of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation.
"We hope that the liberals get the message that they've made a mistake, and it's their job to fix that mistake by letting bargaining happen and allowing collective bargaining to happen so that people can get on with the jobs that they love to do," she said.
Hammond said Friday's protest was just the beginning, that the teachers and educational professionals will stay mobilized as they continue to call for change.
"This fight has just started," he told the cheering crowd.