Ontario elementary teachers to return to bargaining table on Wednesday

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TORONTO — Ontario’s elementary teachers are set to resume contract talks with the government on Wednesday.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario is set to announce its next phase of strike action this afternoon.

Minutes before the start of that news conference, the government confirmed it is returning to the bargaining table with ETFO on Wednesday.

In previous talks earlier this year, ETFO said it was close to an agreement on several key issues, but that the government negotiators changed positions at the last minute.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce made concessions on two major issues last week, though largely affecting secondary teachers, and has said the ball is now in the unions’ courts.

He offered to increase average high school class sizes from 22 last year to 23 next year — instead of the government’s original target of 28 — and allow an opt-out for e-learning courses the Tories previously said would be mandatory.

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association was at the bargaining table with the government for three days last week and resumed talks Monday.

The union representing teachers in the French system is also set to return to negotiations Tuesday and Wednesday.

Two unions — representing high school teachers and educators in the French system — have now suspended strikes for the next few weeks, though the high school teachers say their move is because of March break.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation hasn’t formally bargained with the government since Dec. 16, though it did engage in informal exploratory talks last week.