By Diana Hall
Tambourines shook, whistles blew and red signs waved in the air as teachers marched outside of the Mattamy Athletic Centre on Saturday to share their outrage over Bill 115.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, later joined by members of the Ontario Federation of Labour and other local unions, took advantage of the spotlight on the Ontario Liberal Party leadership race to protest the bill that took away teachers’ collective bargaining rights.
An army of buses carrying hundreds of protesters from Ottawa, Hamilton and the GTA lined Jarvis Street to join the demonstrations.
Premier McGuinty’s provincial government implemented the controversial Putting Students First Act in September 2012 and repealed it on Jan. 23, 2013.
Michael Bednarski, York Region, ETFO, supply teacher:
“You can hear the people playing musical instruments [and] you can hear people cheering. I mean, even though it seems gloomy for teachers, today seems like an upbeat day. It’s where teachers, staff and other workers with the school board and throughout the province can get together and show solidarity with each other.”
Kalifa Buchanan, York Region, ETFO:
“I was here last night to say goodbye and good riddance to McGuinty and hopefully send a message today to the new premier that’s going to be elected that teachers are not giving up this fight.”
Denys Robinson, CUPE 3902 education undergraduate teaching assistant:
“I’m here in solidarity with fellow workers. Bill 115 – the attack on the teachers, the attack on their constitutional right to collectively bargain [and] to strike – was the precursor to attacks on workers rights across the province and attacks on other members.”
Darlene Warner, delegate for Charles Sousa:
“We’ve given [teachers] more money, we’ve given them more prep time. No, I think [teachers] should be made mandatory – but I’m only a delegate, I’m not a politician.”
Photos by Mohamed Omar