Tens of thousands of elementary students in eight Ontario school boards, including the province's largest, will have no classes today as their teachers stage one-day strikes.
The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario says 35,000 teachers, including nearly 14,000 in Toronto, will be hitting the picket lines today in what's being called "Super Tuesday" in the ongoing labour dispute with the province.
Other school boards to be hit by strikes today are Peel, Durham, Waterloo, Greater Essex, Grand Erie and Lambton Kent in southern Ontario and the Near North board in central Ontario.
The ETFO says the one-day strikes are to protest controversial legislation that gives the provincial government the power to end strikes and impose a collective agreement on the teachers.
Federation president Sam Hammond says Education Minister Laurel Broten can end the rotating strikes by repealing Bill 115 and letting local bargaining proceed without interference.
Premier Dalton McGuinty weighed in on the walkouts on in a morning appearance on CityTV's Breakfast Television, defending his government's position as a financial necessity.
"It's gotten a little sticky, that's unfortunate, but I am convinced we are doing the right thing for the long term," he said.
He urged teachers to return to the bargaining table and thanked parents for "all the extra efforts they are making to manage this circumstance."
"Thankfully, it's just the one day," he added.