The union representing Ontario’s high school teachers is planning “informal talks” with the province next week to discuss a return to contract extension negotiations.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation is the only education union to have not yet agreed to extend their current deals to 2019 — past next year’s provincial election.
They had previously been in talks with the Liberal government, and now union president Paul Elliott said the two sides will discuss next week “if there’s enough common ground to get back to the bargaining table.”
There are only a few outstanding issues, he said.
The last round of negotiations with the education unions were contentious, with support staff and elementary teachers staging work-to-rule campaigns and the government threatening to dock their pay. Securing contract extensions past the June 2018 election ensures the government doesn’t have to contend with such job action in the lead-up to the vote.
Ontario’s French teachers and education workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees have ratified their two-year contract extensions, with English Catholic teachers, elementary teachers and other support workers still to vote on their tentative deals.
Radio-Canada has reported that the French teachers’ deal will see them get four per cent in raises over the two years as well as a 0.5-per-cent lump sum payment. Those are the same compensation terms as in the CUPE deal as well as the English Catholic teachers’ and elementary teachers’ tentative agreements.
CUPE’s deal also included a commitment from the government to invest $115 million over the two years in special education and hiring office, clerical, technical and custodial workers.
Since CUPE was the first to negotiate a tentative extension, their deal included a clause that if another education union bargained higher wage increases, CUPE workers would be entitled to those percentages.
Their benefits are also set to rise by four per cent each year of the deal.
The tentative deal for the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario includes an agreement from the government to cap full-day kindergarten classes at 30 students next year and 29 the year after. Currently, each school board must have an average full-day kindergarten class size of 26, but there is no cap.
ETFO’s deal also included a commitment from the government to invest $89 million over the two years for school boards to hire special education teachers and for occasional teachers’ professional development, early years special education support, and support for indigenous students, at-risk students and English-language learners.