TORONTO - Hundreds of thousands of Ontario students will have to stay home next week as public elementary teachers in many school boards stage one-day strikes, including a massive walkout in Toronto.
The Toronto District School Board — the largest in Canada — says elementary teachers in its public schools will be staging a one-day strike on Tuesday.
Education Minister Laurel Broten called the strikes "an incredibly disappointing development" that puts teachers, students and their families in the middle of the union's dispute with the government.
But the governing Liberals won't intervene, so long as the strikes last only one day.
The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario should release the schedule of its planned one-day strikes to give parents enough time to make alternate child-care arrangements, Broten said Friday.
"There's only one week left of school," she said in an interview.
"It's not fair to leave parents and students in the dark when we already know that they have a plan with respect to this last week of school."
The Toronto teachers have been in a legal strike position since Dec. 10, and haven't been participating in field trips, play days or voluntary and extracurricular activities.
The union says the walkouts are in protest of a controversial law that allows the government to stop strikes, freeze wages and cut benefits.
Teachers in the Hamilton area are set to walk out Monday, along with those in the Grand Erie school board, which runs schools in the Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk areas.
Three other boards in northern Ontario will also see their schools shut down as teachers join the picket lines Monday.
They include those in the Sudbury area, Mooonee, Moose Factory and Rainy River, along with all other areas covered by the Rainbow, James Bay and Rainy River school boards.
Premier Dalton McGuinty has rebuked teachers for putting students in the middle of what he's calling a dispute about pay, but the union says it's not about money.
They say they want the government to repeal the law because it's unconstitutional and violates their collective bargaining rights.
If teachers don't reach local deals with their school boards by Dec. 31, the province will impose one that will freeze the wages of most instructors and cut their benefits, such as the number of sick days they're allowed to take each year.