By Tonia Venneri
The Ontario government has reached a tentative deal with public elementary school teachers and with support staff unions in the elementary system, bringing an end to a work-to-rule campaign that began in May.
The battle between the two unions and the Wynne government, both of which ended on Monday, had been a lingering unresolved issue in Ontario’s education system.
EFTO was the last of four big teacher’s unions in the province to reach a deal with the Liberal government.
The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ association, and the Ontario French school teachers settled contract agreements late in the summer.
On Monday, Ontario Education Minister Liz Sandals and Sam Hammond, the president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, spoke separately on Monday to announce the deals.
The new agreement “will ensure that students and teachers across Ontario remain in the classroom,” Sandals said.
“This round of bargaining has been exceptionally lengthy and difficult but in the end we achieved a tentative agreement that ETFO believes is fair and meets the needs of our members,” said Hammond.
As well, the Canadian Union of Public Employees reached an agreement on Monday that will also put an end to all job action upon ratification of the deal.
The news of the agreements came one day after the deadline set by the Liberals that would see school boards dock pay for teachers and staff who were not performing their duties.
OSSTF support staff issue not resolved
Meanwhile, support staff for the OSSTF is the one group that has yet to settle with the provincial government.
Those workers face a possible ten per cent reduction in pay starting next Monday, Sandals said.
OSSTF president Paul Elliot spoke out against the pay threats.
“Our support staff members have been without a contract for fourteen months and they will not cease any job sanctions until a tentative central deal has been made,” said Elliot in a statement.
At a glance, here’s a look at each of the union negotiations:
- ETFO is the largest and loudest of the unions with roughly 76,000 members mostly in the public elementary system. ETFO highlighted issues surrounding wages, class size, hiring of members and preparation time for teachers in their fight with the Ontario government.
- OSSTF has sixty thousand members and the biggest issues within their union pertained to wage increases and flexibility in classroom size.
- OECTA consists of around 50,000 teachers who were mainly concerned with “working conditions”.
- The union for the French language schools, L’Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO), ratified an agreement with the government in the middle of September.
Over $2 million has been funneled into the work-to-rule negotiations.
Details of the reached agreement will not be released until the deal is ratified later this month.