Labour Negotiations

School Status: All Schools Closed to Students on Friday, February 21, 2020

The OCDSB will continue to send updates to parents as more information becomes available regarding labour actions, which will affect schools.

As the labour action is ongoing, parents should continue to plan for the possibility of additional strike action and have contingency plans in place. Please monitor email, media, and school and district websites for updates.

OCDSB employees are represented by two unions across nine bargaining units:

  • The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) represents elementary teachers and occasional teachers; and
  • The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) represents OCDSB employees in secondary and elementary schools and administration offices. This includes secondary teachers; secondary occasional teachers; office, clerical and technical staff; custodial and maintenance staff; educational assistants; early childhood educators; adult education workers; and professional support staff.

Latest Labour Update:

February 19, 2020 -- A province-wide walkout will be held on Friday, February 21st, 2020 by all four education unions, including ETFO and OSSTF.

As a result, all OCDSB elementary and secondary schools will be closed to students on Friday, February 21.

This will include regular school day activities, night school, Adult High School, Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), Co-op, Dual Credit, and home instruction as well as extra-curricular activities, field trips, clubs and testing activities planned for February 21.

It will also include Extended Day Programs operated by the OCDSB and some operated by third-party providers (parents are asked to confirm with their provider).

All community use of school permits for February 21 will be cancelled.

“Work to Rule” Service Withdrawals

In addition to rotating strike actions, ETFO and OSSTF members will be conducting service withdrawal strike action in elementary and secondary schools. 

Elementary School Impacts

  • ETFO members will not participate in a number of Ministry or district led professional learning, training, meetings and other activities.
  • ETFO public elementary teachers will no longer supervise extra-curricular activities unless they are scheduled within the regular school day nor will they participate in field trips. Schools will communicate information relating to specific cancellations.
  • ETFO has advised their members to arrive at work no earlier than 30 minutes before the start of the instructional day for students and leave 15 minutes after the end of the day.
  • Additional measures as part of ETFO “work to rule” can be found on the ETFO website.
  • Information pickets by OSSTF members are also possible at elementary sites.

Secondary School Impacts

OSSTF service withdrawals include:

  • Participation in EQAO preparation or testing;
  • Completion/Submission of Ministry of Education Data Reports;
  • Participation in School Board Professional Activities that are based on Ministry of Education or School Board Initiatives;
  • Participation in unpaid staff meetings outside the regular school day; and
  • Providing comments on any secondary provincial report cards
  • Teachers and occasional teachers will no longer perform on-calls. Supervisions will remain in place as per normal in order to ensure student safety
  • Members will not take on any additional work/responsibilities as a result of an absent member of the bargaining unit. This applies to both teachers and education workers. However, where students with special needs are reassigned between Educational Assistants in the event of an absence, that will be accepted as redistributed work.
  •  Members will not assume responsibility for verifying or finding replacements for the absence of other employees. Absent employees will still report their own absences as per normal procedures. This applies to members of all bargaining units.
  • Members will not perform the work of any other bargaining unit, including work or activities that are the subject of sanctions by another bargaining unit.

OSSTF members will also be potentially holding “information pickets” outside of secondary schools before and after school and during lunch hour. Local union officials have advised that these pickets are intended to be friendly and meant to provide general information, and access to schools will not be impeded. However, the OCDSB would recommend parents and students prepare for potential delays and possible traffic or pedestrian issues at school sites.

Term 1 Report Cards


As a result of the current labour action, Term One Elementary Report Cards will not be issued to students in Kindergarten to Grade 8.

Term One Report Cards were scheduled to be distributed on February 13, 2020. The production of report cards is a multi-step process which requires full collaboration of teachers and administrators, including the submission and electronic entry of marks and comments by teachers; a review of the marks and comments by principals; the printing and distribution of report cards by a combination of teaching and administrative staff. 

Teacher assessment and evaluation of student learning provides important feedback for students and parents. While report cards are not being distributed, teachers will continue with ongoing assessment and evaluation practice, and will continue to provide feedback to students in the classroom and to reach out to parents as required. 


Students in grades 9-12 will continue to receive report cards as scheduled. The report cards will include marks but no comments, as the provision of comments is struck work by the OSSTF.

EQAO Assessments

On Wednesday, January 8th 2020, the Minister of Education announced that school boards would be permitted to make local decisions whether or not to continue with the upcoming EQAO Grade 9 math assessments as a result of labour action taking place.

A decision has been made that the OCDSB will not be participating in the January EQAO Grade 9 math assessments. The OCDSB will await further direction from the Ministry of Education regarding the test for Semester 1 students.

During the current labour negotiations process, members ETFO and OSSTF have announced that they will not be supporting the administration of the EQAO as part of “work to rule” withdrawal of services. Decisions regarding future EQAO testing will be determined as we move forward. 

Financial Support for Parents During Strikes - Government Reimbursements

The Government of Ontario announced that financial support will be available to parents of children up to age 12 (Grade 7), or up to age 21 for children and youth with special needs. Parents who wish to apply may direct their questions to the Support for Parents Helpline at:

Frequently Asked Questions:

With strike action taking place, should parents and students be worried about the school year?

Although some days have been lost due to strike action, we believe parents and students should not be concerned about the status of the school year or whether students will be able to advance to the next grade.

Under the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act, the Education Relations Commission is responsible for deciding whether a strike would put the successful completion of the school year in jeopardy. There is no exact formula when it comes to determining this.

However, we know that learning continues to happen in schools and teachers will do their best to ensure all curriculum areas are taught. Based on previous education strikes in Ontario, we do not believe the current labour situation will reach a point where parents and students should fear the loss of the school year. The OCDSB will continue to share updates on the impact of labour disruptions. 

Why are some students affected by strike action, but not others?

  • ETFO represents elementary teachers and occasional teachers. ETFO labour action affects students from grades JK-8 only.
  • OSSTF represents secondary teachers and support staff in elementary and secondary schools. OSSTF labour action affects all grades.

Why does strike action by OSSTF potentially close both secondary and elementary schools?

The OCDSB is one of the few school boards in the province that has the OSSTF represent a broad range of educational support workers. For example, more than 1,800 OSSTF members work in our elementary schools as educational assistants, early childhood educators, custodial staff, and office staff. Without these staff at work, the OCDSB cannot provide adequate supervision of all students; ensure proper resources and supports for students with special needs; or maintain custodial and maintenance services.

To cite a few examples, educational assistants are assigned to schools to support the safety, behaviour and medical needs of students. Early childhood educators are an integral part of the educator teams (teacher and ECE) who provide support to Kindergarten students. Our office and clerical staff play a critical role in managing school administration, such as tracking student attendance.

How can parents prepare for a potential full strike?

Parents should begin to prepare for the potential escalation of strike action. For example, parents with young children or those in Extended Day Programs may wish to consider in advance what other options they might have for childcare or speak with their employer about possible flexibility in work arrangements.

How is the OCDSB preparing for strike action?

The OCDSB is preparing for how we could support students and parents in the event of the escalation of strike action. Our priority focus in contingency planning is the health and safety of students.

How will the community be informed?

Regular updates will continue to be provided by email and posting of the latest news to our Labour Negotiations webpage and social media accounts. Should you have any urgent questions, please contact your school principal.

How do negotiations work?

Collective agreements for all employee groups in the Ontario education sector, except for principals and vice principals, expired on August 31, 2019. Collective bargaining is governed by the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act, 2014 (SBCBA) which establishes a two-tiered bargaining process:

Local negotiations are conducted between the OCDSB and the unions listed above. Central negotiations are done by the provincial representatives of the employee (unions) and the employer (the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association represents the OCDSB). The government, through the Ministry of Education, is also required to participate. Decisions about which items are negotiated locally or centrally is determined by a central table. Those items not considered “central” will then be handled at a local level. The OCDSB and local unions will negotiate these items through the steps of the collective bargaining process.

What does the Board hope to achieve through labour negotiations?

The OCDSB values all of our employees and remains committed to good faith bargaining and fair and fully-funded collective agreements which support student learning and well-being.

Will actions taken by other unions representing education workers affect OCDSB schools?

No. There are other unions representing education workers in Ontario (for example, CUPE) but they do not have bargaining units at the OCDSB and their actions will not affect OCDSB schools.

Should I be concerned about approaching a picket line?

There may be information picket lines or walk-ins at school sites and administration buildings during labour action. The following guidance is for approaching a picket line or walk-in:

  • Delays and possible traffic or pedestrian access disruptions may be possible at school sites and administration buildings.
  • Approach a picket line or walk-in as you would a busy intersection; come to a complete stop, watch for an opening for safe access/crossing, and exercise caution before proceeding.
  • Students, parents, and employees have the right to cross a picket line without harassment or intimidation.
  • Keep personal biases and emotions in check. Be friendly or neutral. Avoid verbal or physical confrontation.
  • If you are approaching a protest, walk-in or crossing a picket line in a vehicle, do not force your way through in a way that may endanger your safety or the safety of others.
  • In the event you feel your safety is at risk, do not cross the picket line.
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