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Toronto teachers rally against Bill 115 at education ministry

Toronto public elementary and secondary teachers demonstrate outside the Ministry of Education on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013.

TORONTO, Ont. – Hundreds of Toronto public elementary and secondary teachers converged Tuesday evening on the Ministry of Education to protest Bill 115.

Toronto police diverted traffic around the government education offices as the teachers protested Bill 115 — the controversial legislation that allowed the Liberals to impose new contracts on teachers.

Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, was pleased with the turnout.

“The turnout is excellent,” he said.

“The Elementary Teachers of Toronto and their [Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation] counterpart organized this today — on Jan. 15  — or ‘0115’ if you will, to relate it to Bill 115,” he said.

The ETT is the Toronto-local of the ETFO.

The province has vowed to repeal Bill 115 now that it has served its purpose, but teachers, including Liz, who joined the demonstration, say it stripped their democratic rights.

“I just don’t think that’s a democratic process and I think we have to stand up and say so,” Liz said.

Elementary teachers across Ontario planned a mass demonstration last Friday but cancelled it at the last minute after the Ontario Labour Relations Board ruled it an illegal strike.

Members of the OSSTF, which represents public high school teachers, have planned similar protests Wednesday at the offices of MPPs across the province.

Meanwhile, Hammond said the ETFO plans to review its move to withdraw extracurricular activities on or before March 1. Teachers are coming under pressure to reinstate extracurricular activities.

Former president of the Canadian Auto Workers Union Buzz Hargrove said teachers risk losing public support with the withdrawal of after-school clubs.