Ontario public high school teachers reach deal with Ford government

Click to play video: 'OSSTF president says Ontario protest a ‘demonstration of unity’'
OSSTF president says Ontario protest a ‘demonstration of unity’
WATCH (February 2020): Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation President Harvey Bischof said on Friday that the mass protests happening across Ontario and at Queen's Park in Toronto was a "demonstration of unity" by unions with their membership, as well as the parents and students who support them. The protests are being held the same day all four major school unions are holding a provincewide strike – Feb 21, 2020

The union representing Ontario’s public high school teachers says it has reached a new three-year deal with the provincial government, ending a contentious back-and-forth between the two sides since September 2019.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) was the last of the four provincial unions to reach a new contract with the Doug Ford government.

READ MORE: Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association announces tentative deal, suspends all strike action

The teachers had been without a contract since August.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, all unions were enacting province-wide strikes throughout the months of December and January. All schools were shuttered by the Ford government mid-March.

Schools were set to reopen May 4, however, Premier Doug Ford announced the extension of the closure but did not provide a new date.

Story continues below advertisement

“These are extraordinary times,” said OSSTF President Harvey Bischof in a statement Monday. “When we began negotiations nearly a year ago, no one could have anticipated the situation we face today.”

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

Bischof said that while the “tentative agreement does not satisfy all of our concerns,” it will provide more stability in Ontario’s schools once the pandemic has ended.

READ MORE: Ontario elementary teachers’ union, province reach tentative agreement

“With the support of the public and our members, we mounted a strong public awareness campaign that highlighted the government’s dangerous approach to education,” said Bischof. “As a result of our combined efforts, this government, although early in its term and holding a majority, was pushed back from some of its most egregious proposals.”

In recent months, the province has reached tentative contracts with three other teachers’ unions after contentious negotiations that led to walkouts and school closures.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the deal advances the priorities of parents and teachers.

READ MORE: Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association announces tentative deal, suspends all strike action

“Our priority has always been to reach good deals with teachers’ and education workers’ unions, that advance the priorities of students and parents. That is exactly what we have done by reaching deals with every education union in this province,” said Lecce in a statement Monday.

“During this entire process, our aim was to ensure our young people receive the best education we can offer, so they can develop the skills they need to succeed in the classroom and in the jobs of the future.”

Story continues below advertisement

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government introduced teacher-led online learning for the students who are out of school.

Details of the agreement were not immediately available, but the union’s 60,000 members could vote on the tentative deal early next month.

–With files from The Canadian Press


Sponsored content