Walkout supports Bill 115 battle
Lasalle Secondary School students say they're unhappy about the cancellation of extracurricular activities, so they walked out of class Dec. 11.
About 100 students participated. It was also an act to show support for their teachers.
Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation members began boycotting extracurricular activities Dec. 10 to protest provincial government legislation which imposes collective agreement terms.
Under Bill 115, known as the Putting Students First Act, which was passed in September, the province has the power to pass a cabinet order-in-council ordering teachers back to work or imposing contract deals on them. It also freezes wages for two years.
OSSTF president Ken Coran has called the passing of Bill 115 "one of the darkest days" in the history of workers' rights in recent memory, and said that it "tramples" on the rights of education workers in Ontario.
Lasalle Secondary School students are following in the footsteps of their peers at dozens of schools across the province, as many students have staged similar protests.
Breanna Richer, a Grade 12 Lasalle student, said while many students are disappointed by the teachers' job action, they don't blame their teachers.
She said the walkout was designed to get the government's attention.
“It's to prove a point,” she said. “We're not going to stand by while our teachers get treated this way. It's not right.”
Grade 11 Lasalle student Trevor Rainville said senior students hoping to garner post-secondary athletic scholarships will be especially affected by the situation.
“Scholarships are going to be affected, because if you play on sports teams, then you can't really get recognized, because we're not really supposed to play sports right now, because we have no coaches.”
Rainville said he recently received a letter saying the school curling team, of which he's a member, is cancelled because of the job action.
“A lot of people are really disappointed about it,” he said.
Kaci Bretzlaff, a Grade 11 student at the school, said she wants to be a teacher when she's older, and participated in the walkout to support her teachers.
She said she doesn't think her teachers like boycotting extracurricular activities, but they've been forced to do so.
Bretzlaff added that she's a member of the school's athletic council, and they've had to cancel a pep rally because of the job action. She said the school cheerleading squad she belongs to is also in jeopardy.
“I know lots of teachers that like to do all these things because they love coaching, they love interacting with the kids,” Bretzlaff said. “They don't have to do it. It's just something they like to do.”