LINDSAY, ON- Teachers in our local school district are willing to hit the picket lines, if it comes to it.

That’s the word from Karen Bratina, the head of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) branch for the Trillium Lakelands District School Board.

The union represents 83,000 teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals employed in Ontario’s public elementary schools.

According to their website, all public elementary teachers in Ontario are active members of ETFO provincially, and are also members of one of 76 ETFO locals across the province.

The leadership of EFTO recently announced that a countdown has begun as their members are willing to strike against Doug Ford’s government.

As of last Friday, 98 per cent of the union’s members had voted to take action and strike.

EFTO president Sam Hammond has publicly said that the government is failing to negotiate fairly and if this continues, unions members will strike.

The union has been critical of the province’s direction on education, which has included increased class sizes, online courses, and reduced funding to school boards.

According to Bratina, the unions have requested a no-board report which starts the 17-day countdown to a possible strike.

She also said that she didn’t get the breakdown of how her members in Trillium Lakelands voted, but believes they are “absolutely” happy with the result.

“We’re looking for real-time supports, we’re looking for specialists that will come into our schools and assess the students that have high needs, and support those students, because we are in Trillium, as everywhere else, in the province, facing a lot of violent behavior, and these students need the proper supports,” said Bratina.

Bratina also said that nobody wants a strike.

“Nobody is ever ready for a strike, because it’s a negative impact on the finances of our teachers and for all of the families across the province,” said Bratina.

“But, we as ETFO members are going to stand up for our quality education program that we offer in Ontario.”

She promised that ETFO members wouldn’t back down.

“We’re not going to allow them to erode the kindergarten program, which they will not commit to maintaining,” said Bratina.

“So, are we ever ready for a strike? No. Will we follow suit? Yes, 98 per cent voted yes they will if that is the last resort.”

She believed that ETFO could be in a legal striking position within 17 working days, or early December.