Thousands of public school elementary teachers will receive Bill 124 back pay, Global News has learned, after the union signed a tentative four-year agreement with the Ford government.
The new contract will mean Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) get two years of retroactive compensation, while payment for the third year will be decided in arbitration.
Bill 124 — the Ford government’s controversial wage-limiting legislation — capped public sector salaries at a rate of one per cent per year for a three-year term.
The law was struck down as unconstitutional in 2022, triggering a series of renegotiations that allowed public sector unions to recoup lost wages over the three-year period, costing the province billions of dollars.
According to the ETFO deal, obtained and verified by Global News, teachers will receive a Bill 124 “remedy”:
- An additional 0.75 per cent increase for 2019
- An additional 0.75 per cent increase for 2020
The retroactive pay, an internal ETFO document states, will boost teachers’ salaries above the one per cent increase that educators received under Bill 124.
The agreement, however, will also have a three-person board of arbitration decide two key compensation issues:
- Year three of Bill 124. The remedy will give the union a minimum of 1.5 per cent and a maximum of 3.25 per cent increase.
- Wage increases for the term of the four-year contract from September 2022 to August 2026.
As part of the negotiated deal, the Ford government also agreed to create 401 full-time specialist teaching positions to support the province’s new early reading screening program.
The government issued a policy memo, in the middle of contract talks, to create a new screening tool for students from kindergarten to Grade 3 to track their reading abilities.
The program would identify which students might be falling behind and help with early intervention tools. ETFO said the funding for new educators will start in 2024.
The ETFO agreement has yet to be ratified by the union’s 80,000 members.