Ontario high school teachers' union reaches tentative agreement with province

Apr 20 2020, 12:12 pm

The Ontario high school teachers’ union reached a tentative deal with the Province of Ontario, making it the last of the four major unions to reach an agreement.

On Monday, the province said the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA), the OSSTF Education Workers, and the Council of Trustees’ Associations (CTA) all reached the tentative agreement.

“Our priority has always been to reach good deals with teachers’ and education workers’ unions, that advance the priorities of students and parents. That is exactly what we have done by reaching deals with every education union in this province,” Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce said in a statement.

OSSTF President Harvey Bischof said that while the deal “does not satisfy” all the union’s concerns, teachers recognize that students need to have stability once the pandemic is over.

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

Students are now learning virtually until schools reopen, relying on teachers to lead learning initiatives through the Learn at Home program.

“We continue to look to our educators to rise to the challenge and deliver quality education to every child, wherever they may live,” Lecce said.

OSSTF is the last of the four major teachers’ unions to reach an agreement.

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

Bischof said the union highlighted the government’s “dangerous approach” to education and stopped the province from making “its most egregious proposals.”

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.