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Thousands of teachers picketing at schools across the province Friday: How the day is playing out

Upwards of 200,000 teachers from across Ontario are on the picket lines Friday as a show of unity and force against the provincial government.

It’s the first time in over 20 years that the unions have held a mass walkout, and it’s expected to shut down 5,000 public, Catholic and French schools and impact two million students.

Premier Doug Ford criticized the strike yesterday. “Just imagine how many people have to find child care or take a day from work,” he said. “That’s unacceptable.”

The French and Catholic unions held talks with the Ontario government this week but no deals were reached. Teachers have engaged in job action since late last year, but today’s massive strike is the biggest operation yet.

Here’s how the day is playing out:

9 a.m.

Protesters begin gathering across Ontario in solidarity with the four unions on strike. According to organizers, roughly 30,000 picketers will be at Queen’s Park, and in Peel Region, 20,000 people will line 30 kilometres of Highway 10, from the lake north to Caledon.

The four union presidents are speaking with the media prior to their meeting with the government.

“Mr. Lecce has been as toxic as the previous minister,” said Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath, saying that the impasse between government and union will not conclude under his leadership.

8 a.m.

Two hours before the strike is scheduled to begin, the Star’s Kristin Rushowy is waiting outside Queen’s Park for the masses to arrive. The 200,000-plus protesters are demanding that education minister Stephen Lecce, along with the Ford government, stop proposed cuts to education.

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