The Elementary Teachers Federation Ontario (ETFO) has reached a tentative agreement with the Ontario government, averting a strike for roughly 80,000 teacher and occasional teacher members at English speaking public schools in the province.
Members had previously voted 95% in favour of strike action, with union leaders saying they would continue to push for a deal at the bargaining table.
ETFO President Karen Brown said in a statement that the union was committed to keeping cuts out of the agreement during what became the longest run of bargaining in the union’s history.
“After 14 months of central bargaining, we’re pleased to be able to bring forward a tentative agreement to our teacher and occasional teacher members that protects their collective agreement entitlements and also addresses key bargaining goals,” said ETFO President Karen Brown.
“We remained focused on getting government cuts off the table and on addressing members’ working conditions, which are students’ learning conditions.”
On Thursday November 23 details of the agreement will be shared with members after a meeting with local presidents and negotiators, followed by a members ratification vote on a still to be determined date.
A representative from ETFO Limestone local could not be reached for comment.
In a statement, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the government is proud to deliver another deal that demonstrates their commitment to stability for students.
Lecce also urged unions still entrenched in negotiations – including the union representing French teachers in public schools and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) – to return to the table and sign a deal to avoid any classroom interruption.
“Our youngest learners in elementary schools need consistency in their lives. Our priority is to ensure children remain in class without disruption, with a focus on getting ‘back to basics’ so students can master reading, writing, and math skills,” Lecce’s statement reads.
“This is another significant tentative deal that demonstrates our government’s relentless focus on stability and getting students ‘back to basics’ in the classroom. I urge the remaining teachers’ unions to end the delay, and come to the table to sign an agreement that ensures every child in Ontario can learn without the threat of strikes over the next three years.”
OECTA members had recently voted 97% in favour of a strike mandate, citing a lack of resources, supports, and time provided for teachers from the Ontario government.
Details of the deal between ETFO and the province, including which items will be going to binding arbitration, will be made available after the deal is ratified.