With labour action amongst teachers in Ontario, it looked for a while that OFSAA curling might not take place this year.
Secondary and elementary public school teachers stopped providing extracurricular programming to students on Dec. 10 as part of their battle against Bill 115-- controversial provincial legislation that allowed the government to impose contracts on educators.
It won't have as strong a field as in previous years, but at least curlers can curl for a provincial championship.
Four conferences are not even sending teams, including GHAC (Oakville/Burlington), LOSAA (Whitby/Ajax), TDSSAA (Toronto) and WOSSAA (London/Stratford)
High school curling in the province was in a state of flux, as the majority of public high schools did not offer sports, although a few parents stepped up at public schools and put in teams. In matter of fact, curling probably fared better than winter sports such as basketball and volleyball.
In Ontario, and this is only a guess, about 65-70 percent of schools are public, with about 20 percent Catholic, and about 10 percent independent or French-Catholic or French-Public, so for about 30 percent of high schools there was no extracurricular job action, but it's hard to have a curling league with only 2-3 teams and the odd public school thrown in the mix.
Again, if I had to guess, I would say curling had only about 20-30 percent participation this year, with about 70-80 percent of the schools not having teams due to the labour situation.
OFSAA was originally to be held in Gravenhurst and was cancelled because everything was up in the air.
With teachers eliminating extracurricular activities as part of their work-to-rule action, Gravenhurst High School athletic director Corry Ziorjen confirmed the event had to be cancelled due to a lack of time to prepare and organize but provided no other comment by press time.
An official with the Gravenhurst Curling Club, who requested to not be identified, expressed frustration over the cancellation, saying the club, the Gravenhurst Centennial Centre and either the Bracebridge Sportsplex or the Bracebridge Curling Club had been rented for that weekend to provide extra sheets of ice for the tournament.
“Now all of Muskoka is losing the curling championships,” said the official. “And in the end, it’s the kids that suffer, some in their last year of high school, who will never have a chance to make OFSAA again.
“I understand teachers’ hands are tied, it just irks me the kids can have the rug pulled out from under them like that,” the official added. “A person can’t point fingers but the politics of the situation is having a cost.”
Members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) voted last week to suspend their protest against the provincial government and allow teachers to volunteer for extracurricular activities at school.