Schools in Ottawa, eastern Ontario open on Monday after strike averted by education workers

Students at all elementary and secondary schools in Ottawa and eastern Ontario will be in class for in-person learning on Monday, after the union representing education workers reached a tentative agreement with the Ontario government.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees and the province announced Sunday afternoon that a tentative deal had been reached, and schools will be open on Monday.

“There will be no job action tomorrow. Our members will be reporting to schools to continue supporting the students that we are proud to work with,” CUPE said in a statement on Twitter. The deal must still be ratified by union members.

CUPE represents education workers at 11 school boards in Ottawa and eastern Ontario.

The Ottawa Catholic School Board announced all schools will be open for in-person learning on Monday, “It will be a typical day for students and staff.”

“We are pleased that CUPE and the Province were able to reach a negotiated settlement. We know this has been difficult for families, our students and staff. . We thank you for your patience and kindness during this labour unrest,” the board said on Twitter.

The tentative agreement for education workers means the following school boards will be open for in-person learning on Monday.

  • Ottawa Catholic School Board
  • Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est
  • Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario
  • Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l’Est Ontarien
  • Upper Canada District School Board
  • Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario
  • Renfrew County District School Board
  • Renfrew County Catholic District School Board
  • Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board
  • Limestone District School Board
  • Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board

The Ottawa Carleton District School Board has no employees with the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

No details were released about the deal, but CUPE previously said the Ontario government had presented an offer with a 3.59 per cent wage increase for education workers. The union said Sunday evening it had agreed to a $1 an hour flat rate increase.

The president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions says the deal “falls short” of the union’s demands, but it decided to take the tentative agreement to its members for a vote.

“I want to be clear; there’s no money for any new jobs that was offered to us at any time during this period,” Laura Walton said Sunday evening. “There is no services for new jobs.”

Walton says the Ontario government made it clear it would not budge any further from its proposal, so CUPE is bringing the deal to the members for a vote.

“It is our time for this to be a worker centred fight. Perhaps when the members speak this government will listen.”

Walton said the government made no further concessions through the weekend.

“The entire central bargaining committee wishes we could have moved the government to make the investment in public education that you not only wanted, but that you needed and that your children deserve,” Walton told reporters. “We have done our absolute best to represent workers needs and interests.”

Education Minister Stephen Lecce says the deal ensures children are in the classroom.

“While the deal is before ratification I do need to respect that process, but what I can confirm is all parties – the government, union, trustees, all of us – leave this tentative agreement with positive outcomes from what we were trying to advance,” Lecce told reporters at Queen’s Park. “I think all parties have been able to receive some incremental wins; they greatest beneficiary of this deal is our kids who will be in school, that’s what matters.”

CUPE and the Ontario government spent the weekend negotiating in Toronto after CUPE served a five-day strike notice, threatening to go on strike on Monday if a deal was not reached.

The union engaged in a two-day “political protest” earlier this month after the Ontario government passed legislation to impose a new contract on education workers and revoke the union’s right to strike. The strike ended when the Ontario government agreed to revoke Bill 28 and return to the bargaining table.

With files from CTV News Toronto’s Katherine DeClerq

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