Ontario elementary kids may soon get extracurriculars back

The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario protested outside the Ministry of Education office at Bay and Wellsley in downtown Toronto.

Credits: MICHAEL PEAKE/Toronto Sun/QMI M


TORONTO -- Ontario elementary students and their parents can expect to learn soon if a ban on extracurriculars will be lifted.

Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO), has said the union is reviewing its position on voluntary teacher activities and an announcement is expected by Friday.

"Unfortunately, we're not there yet but ... I have faith that there are lots of elementary teachers in our public system across the province who want to be engaged with kids, as well," Premier Kathleen Wynne said Wednesday.

Wynne met with student trustees who told the premier that extracurriculars began returning to high schools on Monday, the first school day after the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) suspended its ban.

The union has credited the new tone set by Wynne for the change in direction, after a prolonged battle over the government's Bill 115 and imposed contracts.

Despite a refusal by some teachers to return to extracurriculars, Wynne said there is evidence that sports and clubs are back on in most schools.

"So, I'm feeling pretty positive about the reaction in the schools among teachers and support staff," she said.

PC Leader Tim Hudak, who tried without success Tuesday to get the Ontario Liberals and New Democrats to back a motion that would have prevented unions in the future from penalizing staff who ignore an extracurriculars ban, said it's clear which political leaders put union leaders ahead of students.

The PC motion would have given principals, not unions, the power to place teachers in the schools -- a move that he insisted would improve the quality of education in Ontario.

"But we won't get there with this unseemly competition between Andrea Horwath and Kathleen Wynne to give more power to the union bosses," he said.

Wynne said Hudak is determined to make the return of extracurriculars into a "negative story," asserting that the Ontario Liberals are believers in a good public education system and work co-operatively with stakeholders to achieve it.

Asked whether unions should be allowed to fine members who snub an extracurriculars ban, Wynne called it "an internal discussion among the federation members."

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