Ontario English Catholic teachers reach tentative deal with province

WATCH ABOVE: Two out of four unions have reached deals with the province, however, details of the agreement remain confidential. The Minister of Education wouldn’t share specifics or say what the cost is to taxpayers. Lama Nicolas reports.

TORONTO – The union representing Ontario’s English Catholic teachers have reached a tentative agreement with the provincial government and the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association.

The province and the union both announced the deal Tuesday morning.

“We appreciate the government’s efforts and those of the Catholic school trustees in reaching this tentative agreement,” said Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) President Ann Hawkins in a media release.

“We worked hard to address the concerns of our members and believe this agreement will protect them as well as the quality of education in our schools.”

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The union says details of the deal will not be released pending a ratification vote by its members.

Meanwhile, work-to-rule campaign has been immediately suspended during the ratification period.

OECTA represents 50,000 elementary and secondary school teachers in Ontario and has been in a legal strike position since August 17, 2015.

Education Minister Liz Sandals released a statement saying the agreement has been a result of “hard work and the willingness of all parties to resolve difficult issues prior to the start of the school year.”

“Both tentative agreements are net zero agreements,” said Sandals. “What that means is that any salary increases are offset in other areas within the collective agreement.”

Sandals refused to say exactly where the savings would come from.

The Liberal government insisted it would not fund salary increases for teachers or any public sector workers until it eliminates an $11.9 billion deficit, which it is scheduled to do in 2017-18.

The Canadian Press obtained a copy of a briefing on last week’s deal with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, which calls for a one per cent lump sum payment followed by raises of 1.5 per cent plus another paid professional day.

The unions all stay in touch with each other throughout the negotiations, said Sandals.

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“As you can anticipate, once unions think somebody got a pay raise, they like to have a pay raise too,” she said.

Sandals said the government did not cave in to teachers’ demands, and insisted the Liberals never asked school boards to raise the limit on class sizes.

“What I want to make absolutely clear is that we have not changed class size in either agreement,” she said.

READ MORE: Elementary teachers’ union announces phase 2 of work-to-rule campaign

The tentative deal comes five days after the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation announced its deal with the province.

The union representing 76,000 public elementary school teachers says it will head back to the bargaining table with the province on Sept. 1.

“We remain committed to bargaining throughout the remaining weeks of the summer in order to reach agreements at all tables,” said Sandals.

With files from The Canadian Press