Elementary teachers’ union says talks with Ontario government have stalled

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TORONTO — The union representing Ontario public elementary school teachers asked for a conciliation officer Wednesday to help with stalled contract talks with the government.

The president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario said bargaining with Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government has reached a virtual standstill.

Sam Hammond said incremental progress was made during discussions over the summer but that has changed in recent weeks.

“ETFO has been clear at the bargaining table about what we want to achieve,” Hammond said in a statement. “ETFO expects the same clarity from the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA), Council of Trustees’ Associations (CTA) and the government but we’re not getting it on many very important issues at this point.”

Hammond said the government has told the union it’s seeking cuts of up to 2.5 per cent in overall education spending and as part of that it has asked teachers to agree to $150 million in reductions to their collective agreement.

“Government representatives at the bargaining table have been asked, point blank, whether the Ford government intends to make funding cuts to elementary education in 2020,” he said. “All we are getting are evasive non-answers. That is completely unacceptable.”

Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lecce has previously called on all parties to reach a deal as soon as possible “to provide predictability and confidence to parents, students and educators alike.”

The union — which represents 83,000 public elementary teachers — has been holding strike vote meetings throughout the province since September and said the results will be announced in early November.

Contracts with a number of education sector unions expired Aug. 31 and negotiations are currently at various stages.

The ETFO and other major education unions have been critical of the government’s overall direction since taking power last June, including recent moves to increase class sizes for Grade 4 and higher, mandate e-learning courses and reduce per-student funding to boards.

Earlier this week, the union representing public high school teachers said it would also be holding a strike vote, with leadership accusing the government of not addressing significant issues during talks.

Last week, the union representing 55,000 education workers reached a tentative deal with the province shortly after giving a strike notice. Under the deal, CUPE agreed to a one per cent wage increase and secured millions in government funding to restore as many as 1,500 jobs cut by the Tories.

 

Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press

20 COMMENTS

  1. Go to the site, https://www.buildingbetterschools.ca/, to see exactly what ETFO is looking to do to maintain and improve the world-class education system we have here in Ontario. Cutting supports in funding and special education and increasing class sizes is not a way to address the needs of students. We know there was only half as much debt as Mr. Ford said and there seems to be money to raise salaries for the government, why not to support students in school also?

  2. Oh like last time when it was all about the kids and class sizes and all that high and mighty shit but ended with nothing but a raise and no changes to class sizes etc?

    • It’s certainly easy to assume this, when you don’t have the facts. Can you please site your source for this ‘strike’ and that ‘it ended because teachers got a raise’? I am curious if I missed this somehow in my active involvement as an educator? Did you see the signed collective agreement or the changes it included? I like to ask before I assume that you may be ‘spinning things’. It is so frustrating to read negative comments about things people are making assumptions about… assumptions. Not facts.

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