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Province, public elementary teachers' union note progress in talks

TORONTO, Ont. – The union representing Ontario’s public elementary teachers has  joined the high school teachers’ union in resuming voluntary or extracurricular activities.

Education Minister Liz Sandals said the talks with the unions have been ongoing and she feels that there has been confidence on everyone’s part that they are restoring their relationship.

“We have reached a point in the conversation where there is sufficient confidence on everyone’s part that we are restoring the relationship,” she said.

Sandals said things will be returning to normal at public elementary schools.

“We look over the next few weeks and seeing some of those activities come back in our elementary schools just the way they have in our secondary schools,” she said.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario said late Tuesday night that it was suspending its advice to boycott voluntary activities, citing progress in talks with the government.

ETFO president Sam Hammond said in a statement that the talks will continue and the union is confident the government “has demonstrated a commitment to dealing with concrete items of importance” to its members.

Public school teachers withdrew from extracurricular activities in the fall to protest a controversial law that freezes wages, cuts benefits and stops strikes. It was used in January to force new two-year contracts on them.

ETFO’s decision comes a month after the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation told its members that they could go back to extracurricular activities.

But OSSTF president Ken Coran noted a majority of public high school teachers may not return to extracurricular activities.

The Progressive Conservatives said the Liberals must have given public elementary teachers a special deal to resume extracurricular activities.

But Premier Kathleen Wynne insists there’s no special deal and no new money for public high school and elementary school teachers.

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