She may only be in grade 8 but Lily Ramsey is acutely aware of the labour negotiations in Ontario. 

The Willow Road Public School student is planning to go silent on Monday in protest of the latest snag in ongoing contract talks between the teacher’s unions and the provincial government.

“That is to show how we are not being told anything”, Ramsey says, as she creates black arm bands to be worn during the protest.

On Thursday, Willow Road Public School students were informed that there will be no more sports, no more pizza days and no more field trips.

“We didn’t do anything wrong.  We didn’t make it hard on anybody.  And yet we are the ones getting things taken away from”, says Ramsey.

The work to rule action is the latest action by the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario.  Doug Cook is the President of the Upper Grand District chapter of the ETFO.  He says the cancellation of school events was the next step as negotiations broke down.  “What you’re seeing is basically an escalation and basically a demand for fair, open dialogue with the government.”  

The debate centers on Bill 115, the Putting Students First Act.  Unions say the Act removes their bargaining power.  The province says the Act is needed to keep salaries in check while the province tries to balance the books.

Unions have promised to give 72 hours notice to school boards should a strike be forthcoming.  That possibility appears to be increasingly likely, which is why the Upper Grand District School Board is considering its options.

“We have the option of closing schools but we would let parents know well in advance”, says spokesperson Maggie McFadzen.

Daycares attached to schools are believed to remain open during a strike situation.

The unions representing teachers in the Upper Grand District school board are in a legal strike position as of Monday. 

Education Minister Laurel Broten has said the government does have the power to prevent a spike, however she hasn’t said specifically what she’ll do should rolling strikes start.