Ontario students protest loss of extracurricular activities

Students of a few school staged a walkout on Friday and stopped interacting with teachers in protest of Bill1 15, which, the students believe, is affecting their quality of education.

The students of Mississauga and Brampton high schools walked out of class and also stopped answering questions of the teachers to protest what they call the “new ban on extracurricular activities”.

The Putting Students First Act, approved by the Ontario government, imposes wage freezes, pay cuts, benefit reductions and bans strike or lockout action for workers in Ontario’s public school system.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and Canadian Union of Public Employees have declared the legislation an attack on worker rights. They say it’s unconstitutional and are seeking to have the legislation overturned in court.

Teachers at several Mississauga schools are refusing to volunteer their spare time to coach school teams, supervise various clubs or coordinate other studentactivities outside the classroom. Those extracurricular activities cannot take place without staff supervision.

Mississauga Secondary School students carried signs and chanted: “Kill the bill.” Students at Lincoln Alexander Secondary School in Malton were also planning to walk out of class on Friday as student unrest continues to spread across the region. Students at Erindale Secondary School held a protest on Friday.

School officials prevented reporters from speaking to students on Peel District School Board property but some students managed to speak to the media. According to them, all sports have been cancelled at Erindale except football and volleyball.

The students believe that the teachers have been forced to cancel extracurricular activities because of the government’s action.The students finally resorted to social media to mobilize protests.

More demonstrations are expected to be held in coming days, with student organizers turning to Facebook and Twitter to get the word out.

Earlier in the month, students posted petitions online opposing the Ontario bill, which froze teacher salaries for two years and blocked the right to strike.

In response, several teachers’ unions urged their members not to participate in extracurricular activities. Sports and after-school clubs at several schools have since been cancelled for the year. Other students have announced plans to show support for teachers at a noon-time protest at Mississauga Secondary School.