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Ontario elementary teachers reach tentative contract deal with province

Public elementary school teachers have reached a tentative contract deal with the provincial government.

“I am pleased to announce that we have reached a tentative central agreement with the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario,” Stephen Lecce said in a statement Tuesday. 

“This agreement brings us one step closer to ensuring there will be no province-wide job actions or strikes in all English-language public schools for the next three years.”

When ratified, Tuesday’s agreement would apply to over 80,000 union members, including elementary and occasional teachers, according to the union. Members of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) had previously voted 95 per cent in favour of a strike, with union leadership saying it would help to put pressure on the government to reach a deal at the bargaining table.

“After 14 months of central bargaining, we’re pleased to be able to bring forward a tentative agreement to our teacher and occasional teacher members that protects their collective agreement entitlements and also addresses key bargaining goals,” ETFO President Karen Brown said in a statement.

A woman speaking at a microphone.
ETFO President Karen Brown says this has been the longest round of central bargaining in the union’s history. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

“This has been the longest round of central bargaining in ETFO’s history, but we persisted. We remained focused on getting government cuts off the table and on addressing members’ working conditions, which are students’ learning conditions.”

The union says details of the agreement will be shared with workers on Thursday. A ratification vote is currently being scheduled.

Elsewhere in the province’s education system, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation previously agreed to a binding arbitration process that eliminates the possibility of strikes during bargaining and for the next three years.

The government is still in bargaining with the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association — whose members also voted in favour of a strike — and with the union representing teachers in the French public system.

“I urge the remaining teachers’ unions to end the delay, and come to the table to sign an agreement that ensures that every child in Ontario can learn without the threat of strikes over the next three years,” Lecce said. “The time is now to get this done.”

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