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Tentative deal for public elementary teachers

By Randy Thoms Nov 21, 2023 | 12:15 PM

Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario flag flies during rotating strikes in 2020. Image: Randy Thoms/Acadia Broadcasting

The threat of a potential public elementary teachers’ strike has been averted.

After 14 months of bargaining, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario has reached a tentative deal with the province with the help of a Ministry of Labour conciliator.

ETFO’s more than 80 thousand members will get a peak on Thursday before a ratification vote is held.

The details are not being made public, but President Karen Brown feels it meets the needs of their members.

“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,” says Brown. “This has been the longest round of central bargaining in ETFO’s history, but we persisted. We remained focused on getting government cuts off the table and on addressing members’ working conditions, which are students’ learning conditions.”

If approved, the deal would be retroactive to September 2022.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce says it ensures students remain in class without disruption.

“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 going ‘back to basics’ so students can master reading, writing, and math skills,” says Lecce.

The education minister adds it also brings the province one step closer to ensuring there will be no province-wide job actions or strikes in all English-language public schools for the next three years.

Deals have already been reached with the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Ontario Council of Educational Workers.

It also has an agreement with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation to continue bargaining without the threat of strike or job action and use binding arbitration on issues not resolved at the bargaining table.

Those talks are now before an arbitrator.