Elementary school teachers in Ontario will avoid any kind of strike action for the next three years, with members of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) voting overwhelmingly to accept the tentative deal with the Ontario government.
Permanent and occasional teacher members voted 90% in favour of accepting the agreement that was reached with the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA) and provincial government in November.
In a statement from ETFO, President Karen Brown says despite the particularly difficult bargaining process, members dug in and have a fair deal because of it.
“While this round of bargaining was exceptionally lengthy and difficult, ETFO members stood firm in the face of cuts, pressed for improvements to working and learning conditions, and won,” said ETFO President Karen Brown.
“This agreement is proof that the legal bargaining process works when it’s allowed to unfold as intended. I want to thank members for their strength, resistance and persistence.”
Before reaching a tentative agreement with the province, members had voted 95% in favour of a strike mandate.
ETFO highlighted funding for 401 FTE new specialist teaching positions in 2024-25 and continued funding to maintain the positions for at least two school years to follow.
Preservation of the Support for Student Fund was also highlighted, in addition to new measures being implemented in school to help address violence.
Without a new collective agreement, 80,000 teachers and occasional teachers, and 3,500 designated early childhood educators, education support personnel, and professional support personnel could have eventually wound up on the picket lines.
Ontario’s Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, used the opportunity of announcing the deal’s ratification to push Catholic and French educator unions to finalize their own deal with the province.
“I am pleased that the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario has ratified their teachers’ central agreement, ensuring that 950,000 children benefit from three stable school years,” Lecce said on twitter.
“We continue to call on Catholic and French education unions to get their deals done, so that all ids are in class without the threat of disruption.”
Now that the union and province have agreed on the deal, it still needs to be ratified at the local school board levels.
ETFO Limestone will work with the Limestone District School Board to negotiate a local collective agreement, and a spokesperson for LDSB said local bargaining is progressing and will continue into the new year.