Ontario elementary teachers’ union, province reach tentative agreement

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Ontario government announces tentative agreement reached with ETFO
WATCH ABOVE: Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced on Saturday that a tentative agreement has been reached between the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and the provincial government after months of negotiations and job actions – Mar 21, 2020

Ontario’s elementary teachers’ union has reached a tentative agreement with the province.

In a message sent to members of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), the union says local presidents and chief negotiators will be reviewing the terms of the agreement during a phone town hall on Wednesday.

“This has been a very prolonged and difficult bargaining process,” ETFO president Sam Hammond said in a statement.

“We are very grateful for the support and unwavering solidarity of our members, and the public who have continued to stand up for public education and the supports that our students and educators need now and in the future.”

Education Minister Stephen Lecce called the deal a “win-win” for all parties involved when speaking to media Saturday morning.

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The province, much like the rest of the world, is currently battling the coronavirus pandemic and Lecce said he belives COVID-19 “elevated the consciousness of the parties, elevated the reprehensibility of all of us in the education sector to work together and to do what’s right and put our students’ safety and our staffs’ safety first.”

All public schools in the province will remain closed for at least two weeks following March break amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

ETFO said separate central agreements had been negotiated for teachers and education workers.

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“While ETFO’s Provincial Executive has endorsed the terms of these tentative central agreements, the decision to accept them ultimately rests with ETFO’s 83,000 members,” Hammond said.

ETFO is the largest teachers’ union in the province and the second — behind the Catholic teachers’ union — to reach a deal.

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Details of the deal were not available.

Lecce said the government is committed to keeping class sizes low, full-day kindergarten, investing in special education, and a “fair” increase in compensation.

The government previously said it wouldn’t budge on one-per cent salary increases per year, though the unions were asking for two per cent.

Meanwhile, the Ontario Secondary School teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) and the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO) remain without deals.

Lecca said he will be meeting with AEFO next week and and hopefully meeting with OSSTF in the “coming days.”

“We want to work with you to get deals that are good for members, good for the tax payer and especially good for students,” he said was his message to OSSTF.

The Ontario government launched a new online learning platform called “Learn at Home” for students in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Learn at Home provides math and literacy content created by Ontario educators and will be provided in both English and French for kindergarten to Grade 12.

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— With files from The Canadian Press

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