Tories seek court injunction
By Sara Marett
As the province-wide teachers strike marched into its second day, the government proved to be a force to be reckoned with by taking steps towards a court injunction which would send Ontario's 126,000 teachers back to the classroom.
It appears, however, teachers will be striking for at least this week, as Minister of Education Dave Johnson announced in a news conference yesterday that he has collected the materials to put together an application for the injunction, expected to be served this morning.
He said it was probable the case would not be heard by the attorney general until later this week and the first opportunity to send the teachers back to work would most likely be the beginning of next week.
Barry Spratt, a picket captain and teacher at Banting Secondary School, said teachers are unsure of exactly how the injunction would work as the government is entering unchartered territories. "We are already breaking the law, so how would this have a bearing on what we are doing?," he asked.
Daniele Gauvin, communications officer for the Ministry of Education, said the government must prove the strike is causing harm to parents and children in order to receive a court injunction. "It could take longer than expected as it may be a few days before it is heard," she said.
In the meantime, the government will continue posting supplementary learning material for children for day three and four of the strike, Gauvin explained.
"Our website had over 500,000 hits [Monday] to download the information," she said. The government is also providing $40 a day per household for parents with children under the age of 13 who require child care.
"This money is coming from the school boards, but they do not yet have the applications for parents to fill out because the initiative was just announced," Gauvin said. She added parents should be keeping track of their expenses, as the legislature will be retroactive to the first day of the strike.
As the government seemed to be adopting the teachers' attitude of "We won't back down," child care facilities have been operating with increased business due to the strike. Western's Day Care Centre experienced numerous kindergarten students staying at the facility all day instead of half-days, explained executive director Jill Arthur.
The University Students' Council's flexible day care centre was experiencing the same situation yesterday, but said they still have open spaces to take children. Western's Association of Continuing Education and Studies began their own "Strike Camp" with planned activities around campus for children.
Sharri James, coordinator of the camp, said they had approximately 16 children and two high school volunteers to help them yesterday. "We are starting to think about planning for next week, we intend operate for the entire strike," she said.
The Wilfrid Laurier Students' Union has also created a camp at their school. The service will run all week as a transition method for parents to find child care if the strike continues, said Stewart Wong, president of WLUSU. He said they had 25 children yesterday for "Camp Laurier" which is operating completely by student volunteers.