Catholic teachers latest group in Ontario to plan strike votes

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Ontario elementary teachers to hold strike votes
RELATED: Public elementary school teachers in Ontario are taking a step toward a strike, with the union announcing Monday that it will be asking members to vote in favour of a walkout. Global News' Queen's Park Bureau Chief Colin D'Mello reports – Aug 14, 2023

Catholic teachers in Ontario have become the latest group of educators to move one step closer to strike action, as their union announced dates to vote on any potential action.

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) announced on Monday it would ballot its members over whether or not to consider a strike option by mid-October.

The union said it had “become necessary to conduct a strike vote” in order for talks to continue to progress at the table.

“We have reached a critical moment in the bargaining process,” René Jansen in de Wal, OECTA president, said in a statement.

“The Ford Conservative government has failed to demonstrate real interest to engage in meaningful discussions about the critical issues facing publicly funded education in Ontario.”

The English Catholic teachers join other unions signalling growing frustration with provincial negotiations as the potential for several strikes threatens the upcoming school year.

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The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario fired the starting gun in mid-August, announcing it would ask its members for a mandate to strike in a vote between mid-September and mid-October.

Around the same time, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation said in an internal bargaining update it was moving toward a vote over strike action.

In its announcement, OECTA accused the Ford government of bargaining in bad faith by implementing new requirements for early reading screenings that the government announced this summer. An Ontario Labour Relations Board complaint has been filed over the move.

The Ministry of Education has said the new instructions were developed with feedback from all unions and the education sector.

In a statement, education minister Stephen Lecce said his government had been “bargaining in good faith, meeting over 170 times with all education unions.”

He said the news would cause anxiety for parents.

“The threat of another strike by some of the teacher unions just weeks ahead of the start of school is unfair to parents and moves the focus away from getting a deal that keeps kids in class,” Lecce said.

OECTA will hold its strike vote on Oct. 18 and 19, the union said.

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Most students in Ontario return to school in early September.

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