100 Years Strong: 1919–2019 · Chapter One



Chapter One

Background andChronological Overview

Welcome to the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation online museum!

2019 marks the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation 100th anniversary.  This major milestone is being celebrated with special events, the publication of a book — OSSTF/FEESO: 100 Years Strong, and a series of vignettes that can be viewed online and as part of this museum. Creating our online museum was just one way we chose to mark this important occasion.

Like the OSSTF/FEESO: 100 Years Strong book, the online museum is not meant to present a chronological history (although an historical overview and timeline are provided for context), but rather to explore defining themes, or areas of endeavour, that have emerged over the Federation’s first century. We hope you enjoy browsing through our collections of publications, photos, and more. This online museum will continue to evolve as new features, images, and resources get added and updated to our collection.

Although OSSTF/FEESO has seen tremendous growth, experienced many challenges, and evolved as a federation, we remain committed to the belief that public education is the cornerstone of tolerance and democracy within our diverse society.  As you browse through the online museum one thing will become evident quite quickly, OSSTF has been committed to protecting and enhancing public education for over 100 years. That commitment is stronger today thanks to the experience gained over the past century. In fact, it is because of the work of our federation and its membership, that Ontario’s public education system is one of the best in the world. By celebrating 100 years of history, we honour our past look forward to continuing to be a strong federation, and defender of public education in Ontario for many years to come.

Have fun exploring our museum!



  • 1919

    The Birth of Federation
    On December 30, 1919, the Federation was founded at a meeting attended by 62 representatives, held at the Odd Fellows Temple at 229 College Street in Toronto. Within a year there were more than 1000 members from 14 districts.

    Oddfellows' Hall — First Meeting Place

  • 1920

    At its second annual meeting, OSSTF members pass a motion by Jessie Muir of Ottawa supporting “the principle of equal pay for equal work...”

    Jessie Muir — Equal Pay

  • 1925

    Federation is incorporated as a non–profit corporation with provincial charter. The first objective stated in the Letters Patent is “to associate and unite the Secondary School Teachers of the Province of Ontario and to promote and safeguard their interests.”

    Letters Patent

  • 1930

    Education Week, initiated under the auspices of the Federation, is held for the first time on October 19–24, 1930. Over sixty years later OSSTF members continue to celebrate this annual occasion.

    Education Week

  • 1965

    OSSTF publishes its first set of resource books covering topics such as Business, English, Geography, History and Science. The following year the Federation would publish resource books on Classical Languages, Modern Languages, Guidance and Music.

    Resource Books

  • 1973

    In response to the provincial government’s move to remove their right to strike, on December 18, teachers from across the province walked off their jobs en–masse in what was then Ontario’s largest political demonstration. The government conceded that teachers did indeed have the right to strike and committed itself to bargaining in good faith.

    Queen's Park

  • 1987

    OSSTF is certified as a trade union and starts to organize other categories of education workers. Soon Teachers are joined by Attendance Counsellors, Child and Youth Workers, Educational Audiologists, Educational Assistants, Occupational Therapists, Psychologists, Speech & Language Pathologists, and Social Workers.

    Annual Meeting of the Provincial Assembly (AMPA)

  • 1989

    25,000 OSSTF members and teachers from other affiliates fill Hamilton’s Copps Coliseum in a protest against the government’s proposed changes to the Teachers’ Superannuation Fund including the expropriation of $461 million. The protest leads to the formation of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

    Copps Pension Rally

  • 1997

    OSSTF members across the province walk off their jobs to protest the provincial government’s Bill 160. After 10 days of protest, the government backed off on some changes and the public’s concern for public education was raised.

    Maple Leaf Gardens

  • 2002

    OSSTF organizes workers at Brock University, our first university sector bargaining unit. They are soon joined by three more university sector bargaining units: Algoma University-College, University of Ottawa, and Wilfrid Laurier University.

    University Sector

  • 2002

    The “Common Threads” project launched as an initiative to produce high quality “classroom ready” curriculum resources for Ontario teachers.

    Common Threads Project: The Sustainable Society

  • 2005

    OSSTF, in conjunction with its provincial affiliates releases its survey on bullying in the educational workplace. At the time, the report, delivered in two phases, was the first of its kind in North America.

    Bullying Reports

  • 2009

    Over the school year of 2008/2009, working under the auspices of Provincial Discussion Tables, negotiators from OSSTF/FEESO settled 132 collective agreements for teachers and support staff across the province without having to resort to a single job action or work disruption.

    Collective Agreements

  • 2012

    Sep. 11 — Bill 115 the Putting Students First Act enacted. It imposes collective agreement conditions and removes the right to strike at the discretion of the Education Minister.

    Bill 115, Putting Students First Act

  • 2013

    A Charter of Rights and Freedoms challenge against Bill 115 is launched by OSSTF/FEESO, ETFO, CUPE, OPSEU and Unifor.

    Oct. 22 — Provincial government introduces Bill 122, the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act, 2013, creating a formalized two-tiered bargaining structure of a central agreement between the government, school board associations and the Federation, as well as a local agreement between each school board and local bargaining unit.

    Charter of Rights and Freedoms challenge news conference

  • 2014

    Apr. 8 — Bill 122 enacted.

    May 31 — Special Meeting of the Provincial Assembly held to prepare for two-tier bargaining under Bill 122. A special supplementary levy if necessary approved for enhanced strike pay for members asked to engage in job action in support of demands for fair and reasonable treatment at the bargaining table.

    Bill 122

  • 2015

    April/May — D.13 Durham (Apr. 20-May 27), D.03 Rainbow (Apr. 27-May 27), and D.19 Peel (May 4-27) Teacher/Occasional Teacher Bargaining Units strike.

    May 26 — OLRB declares 3 striking (D.13 Durham, D.03 Rainbow, D.19 Peel)OSSTF Teacher/Occasional Teacher bargaining units to be in contravention of the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act, 2014, and orders a two-week moratorium on further strikes.

    May 28 — Ontario legislature passes Bill 103 the Protecting the School Year Act back-to-work legislation to end 3 striking Districts.

    Bill 103

  • 2016

    April 20 — In a ruling that marks a major victory for labour and collective bargaining rights, Ontario Superior Court Justice Thomas R. Lederer upholds the Charter of Rights and Freedoms challenge launched by OSSTF/FEESO et al against Bill 115, which was imposed by the provincial government in September 2012. Lederer rules that Bill 115 was unconstitutional in that it violated the unions' rights to freedom of association and the right to meaningful collective bargaining.

    Education Forum: A Pivotal Victory

  • 2017

    OSSTF/FEESO rejoins Canadian Teachers’ Federation

    Canadian Teachers’ Federation

  • 2017

    Equity Mentorship Program established

    This important program is designed to reduce barriers to leadership positions within the federation for members of equity seeking groups.

    Equity Mentorship Program

  • 2019

    OSSTF/FEESO celebrates the 100th anniversary of its December 30, 1919 founding.

    100th Anniversary