Toronto is packed with striking teachers after breakdown in talks
Downtown Toronto is packed with striking teachers today after elementary teachers went on strike across the province.
The striking teachers have staged a march down Front Street, which is where Ontario’s Ministry of Education is located. Over one thousand teachers gathered outside the ministry—holding advocacy signs and chanting pro-teacher slogans.
Anti-pipeline protestors took to the streets in both downtown Toronto and Ottawa this afternoon, bringing traffic to a halt. In Toronto, the major artery of Bloor Street was blocked. While in Ottawa, protestors stopped traffic in Byward Market.
Protests and blockades opposing the Coastal GasLink pipeline have entered their 12th day, bringing traffic and the nation’s economy to a standstill.
The scene in Toronto is intense, with thousands marching.
“Obviously we’re a country of the rule of law and we need to make sure that those laws are followed,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said about the protests on Monday. “We are going to continue to focus on resolving this situation quickly and peacefully.”
Nationwide protests that claim to be in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en have exploded after RCMP arrested pipeline protestors on Wet’suwet’en territory. Protests have already effectively shut down VIA Rail and CN Rail and at least two US border crossings.
The Wet’suwet’en Tribal Council supports the pipeline project.
The Ontario teachers strike has been going on for a while, and the teachers’ unions continue to escalate the situation.
Ontario’s four largest teachers’ unions will be staging a one-day strike across the province on Feb. 21 if there is not an agreement reached with the provincial government. The four teachers unions involved in the strike are the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, and the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens.
Rotating strikes have been going on in my neighbourhood in the past few weeks. I have driven by these demonstrations.
Some people honk their horns or cheer to show support for the teachers. I do not honk my horn or cheer. I roll down the window of the vehicle I am in and make some blunt comments.
“Quit complaining!” I shout at the crowds of teachers. “You have the best part-time jobs in the world!”
Ontario’s teachers should not be striking, because they already have amazing jobs.
Ontario’s teachers receive fantastic health and dental insurance. This health and dental insurance allows teachers to avoid paying certain health care costs.
The ETFO Benefits Plan Guide says Ontario’s public elementary school teachers receive health insurance that includes up to $12,000 for fertility drugs per lifetime, two pairs of custom orthopedic shoes per benefit year, and up to $1,000 for massage therapy if a doctor’s note is provided. Their dental insurance covers 100 percent of dental check ups, x-rays, and fillings, 100 percent of root canals and related services, and 50 percent of child and adult orthodontics.
Vacation time is abundant for Ontario’s teachers. They have eight weeks off for summer vacation, two weeks for winter break, and one week for March break.
This vacation time applies to new employees. Can you name any other jobs that receive 11 weeks of vacation time when employees first start?
One reason why Ontario’s teachers are striking is salary. The Ontario government hopes to provide a one percent pay raise per year for the next three years, but teachers want two percent. Teachers should not be complaining, because they already make a substantive amount of money.
The Toronto District School Board’s salary grid shows that effective August 31, 2019, more experienced teachers can make $73,071 to $100,034 per year.
A poll done by Campaign Research found that the majority of Ontarians are opposed to giving teachers a two percent pay raise.
Ontario’s teachers have a pension. The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) said that teachers are eligible to retire with an unreduced pension when their age and qualifying years equal 85 years old or when they turn 65 years old. This means that a teacher who started working at 25 could retire by 55 if they work for 30 years.
Statistics Canada reported that the average age of retirees in Canada in 2019 was 64.3 years old, so teachers can afford to retire earlier than most people.
Their pensions are cushiony. The OTPP said that until a teacher turns 65 years old, his or her pension is calculated by multiplying two percent, the amount of years worked, and the average salary of their best five years. A teacher who worked for 30 years and earned an average of $85,000 in their best five years would earn a pension of $51,000 per year.
There are teachers who claim that they are striking to help students. However, if these teachers are passionate about supporting students, why were they not striking during the summer?
Premier Doug Ford was right when he said that there is a pattern when the teachers go on strike.
“They went on strike under Bob Rae, they went on strike under Mike Harris, they went on strike under Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne,” said Ford at a press conference in April 2019. “They strike under every single government that’s in there.”
Ontario’s teachers and students belong in the classroom. Striking is unproductive and selfish–it’s not for the kids.
A huge group of anti-pipeline protestors swarmed the Toronto subway and blocked major train tracks on Saturday to spread their message of solidarity with demonstrators in northern B.C. who oppose the building of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
After riding the subway from Matt Cohen Park to Pioneer Village, chanting with megaphones the entire way, the protestors arrived at major train track near York University where they proceeded to set up a blockade.
Police served an injunction to the anti-pipeline protestors, who proceeded to burn it in defiance. Protestors also threw rocks at drones that were monitoring the situation.
The emergency action was organized by Rising Tide Toronto and Porcupine Warriors and had 684 confirmed participants on Facebook. The actual number was closer to 200.
Via Rail announced on Thursday afternoon that they are suspending all train travel across Canada as a result of the ongoing anti-pipeline blockades. Most of CN Rail traffic has been affected as well
Liberal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said he “very concerned” by the anti-pipeline protestors, but has taken no action to remedy the situation thus far. There has been no definitive action taken by the Canadian government to clear the rails as of yet.
The protests and blockades began as a response to the raid of an anti-pipeline camp in Northern British Columbia that was set up to oppose the building of the Costal Gaslink pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory.
The Wet’suwet’en Tribal Council supports the pipeline project.
The drop in temperature has been a bit much for many, including the earth’s surface. Toronto experienced what are known as “frost quakes” Friday, a rare weather phenomenon.
“My girlfriend and I were sleeping—and my girlfriend is a very heavy sleeper—but this boom woke up the two of us,” said Joel Lopez, who lives near Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue to the Toronto Star.
“It was really loud.”
Lopez described the crack as sounding like a water pipe burst which he heard around 2 a.m. and again at around 7 a.m. Lopez heard another crack that he said sounded like someone dropping a dumbbell through his bathroom vent which seemed to cause a vibration.
The scientific name is “cryoseism,” and it occurs when there is a sudden drop in temperature that goes from above freezing to below 0 degrees Celcius which causes the water in the ground to freeze.
Kelly Sonnenberg a Weather Network meteorologist, explained the process of frost quakes, “The rapid cool-down allows groundwater to freeze and then expand causing loud cracking or popping sounds of the ground splitting,” Sonnenburg said. “Even minor shaking or rattling can be occasionally felt.”
Sonnenburg said that quakes are most common during midnight and dawn, when the temperatures hit their lowest overnight lows. Soil and rock that are saturated with water begin to expand which puts pressure on the soil and rock until an explosion occurs.
An extreme cold alert for Toronto has been issued by Environment Canada for Friday. Temperatures are expected to drop to -30 C with windchill for the GTA.