Province of Ontario reaches tentative agreement with another teachers’ union

 

The Ontario government says it has reached a tentative agreement with the union that represents the province's public secondary school teachers. 

The province has already reached deals with other unions representing Catholic school teachers, public elementary school teachers and French immersion teachers. 

On April 20, the province announced that it's reached a deal with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) and the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA), as well as the OSSTF Education Workers and the Council of Trustees’ Associations (CTA).

“Our priority has always been to reach good deals with teachers’ and education workers’ unions, that advance the priorities of students and parents," said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, in a statement.

"That is exactly what we have done by reaching deals with every education union in this province."

The deals with the OSSTF and other unions were reached after months of fraught negotiations and rotating school strikes. 

In a statement, OSSTF President Harvey Bischof said that when negotiations began a year ago, no one could have imagined the difficult COVID-19 pandemic situation and its impact on schooling. 

"These are extraordinary times. When we began negotiations nearly a year ago, no one could have anticipated the situation we face today," Bischof said. 

"Our main priority has been to protect the education system by reaching a deal that respects our members and ensures students get the best education possible. We thank our members for their support, solidarity, and sacrifice during these many months of negotiations. Our union remains stronger and more united because of their demonstrated commitment on the front lines across this province," Bischoff said. 

Bischoff said the union's strong campaign pressed the government to walk back "some of its most egregious proposals." 

The union president said that while the agreement isn't perfect, it ensures students will have stability when they return to the classroom. 

"While this tentative agreement does not satisfy all of our concerns, we recognize the current environment we are in and the need for students to have stability once this emergency is over. Even now, educators continue to do their best for students during this crisis and look forward to welcoming them back to the face-to-face support we know is best for most students," Bischoff said. 

Lecce said the province will remain focused on keeping students safe while ensuring the continuity of education during the COVID-19 shutdown. 

"Moreover, we remain determined to continuously strengthen teacher-led learning and virtual learning for the benefit of our students, and we continue to look to our educators to rise to the challenge and deliver quality education to every child, wherever they may live.”

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