Ontario elementary teacher union ratifies bargaining agreements with province

Apr 28 2020, 9:19 am

The Ontario elementary teacher union accepted central bargaining agreements with the Government of Ontario on Tuesday.

Members of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) voted 97% in favour of the 2019-2022 Teacher/Occasional Teacher Central Agreement and voted 94% in favour of the 2019-2022 Education Worker Central Agreement.

Some of the central bargaining agreement included, preserving 100% of special education for the Supports for Students Fund.

The Kindergarten model, with its teacher and designated early childhood educator (DECE) team, is preserved and elementary class size will not increase.

Also, proposed government funding cuts of $150 million to public elementary spending were withdrawn, and professional development funds for education workers were increased.

Additionally, sustainable funding for member benefits will continue.

“Our goal was to defend public education and the working and learning conditions that have made Ontario’s education system one of the best in the world,” Sam Hammond, ETFO president said.

“While these negotiations were prolonged and difficult, our educators – with the support from parents and other community members – stood firm in the face of planned government cuts to education.”

ETFO locals will now work with their respective school boards to negotiate local collective agreements.

“Along with our members, we want to thank parents and other supporters for standing together to defend public education over this past year,” added Hammond.

The union represents 83,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers, and education professionals across the province.

“Our primary objective was to reach good deals with teachers’ and education workers’ unions, that will advance the priorities of students and parents,” Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, said.

“Our government demonstrated an unwavering commitment to reaching deals that will protect our children’s futures and invest in their potential. We now have tentative central agreements with everyone and have delivered five ratified deals to date.”

The three other major teacher unions in the province reached tentative agreements with the Ontario government.

All four major unions had been engaged in rotating strikes from January to March before the pandemic caused the provincial government to close Ontario schools indefinitely.

The teachers’ primary concerns were increased classroom size, expansion to online learning, funding cuts to special education, hiring teachers with seniority, and improved salary compensation.