Roy Green: As Ontario strikes continue, teaching should be declared an essential service

Individual teachers may be picketing outside Ontario schools, but how many of those placard-carrying educators truly have their hearts committed to their union’s collective battle with the provincial government?

A Feb. 7 Global News headline reads “All 4 Ontario teacher unions now striking after French educators announce plans for province-wide walkouts.”

So not a single classroom and not a single public school student in the province of Ontario remains unaffected.

What a deleterious effect on children.

The debacle was utterly predictable the moment Ontario voters kicked the provincial Liberals from government to the dust bin and from Queen’s Park majority to not enough elected members to qualify for official party status.

The teaching unrest in the nation’s most populous province is fully intended to serve a political purpose, as unions — teachers or otherwise — take on the role of proxy opposition to Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government.

I’m not here to defend the actions of Premier Ford and/or his government, but if sides are being chosen, what I observed earlier in the week while passing by a school picket line may have been a microcosmic reflection of the public mood.

The picketers appeared entirely disengaged — no sign-waving, no imploring motorists to proffer their honking support.

And as far as that was concerned, not one vehicle horn broke the silence.  I u-turned twice and might as well not have.  The result was identical.

Intemperate relations between governments and public sector unions aren’t uncommon and too frequently lead to service disruption for the general public — you know, taxpayers.

The lesson to be learned from the current battle between the Ontario government and provincial teachers unions, without pursuing the dead-end series of complaints and accusations, should be that classrooms must be open, the right to education declared sacrosanct and the system of delivering education — in other words, teaching — be defined as an essential service, with an in-place and negotiated system of contract arbitration available when required.

Roy Green is the host of the Roy Green Show on the Global News Radio network.

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