The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF/FEESO) announced April 20 “tentative agreements” with both the Education Ministry and Ontario’s school board associations on new contracts for its members. The OSSTF/FEESO represents teachers and educational workers at high schools in both the English and French public school systems.
“These are extraordinary times,” stated Harvey Bischof, OSSTF/FEESO president in a news release, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. “When we began negotiations nearly a year ago, no one could have anticipated the situation we face today.”
Bischof claimed success for the union’s public awareness campaign that highlighted opposition to ministry policy proposals for increasing class sizes and reducing teaching staff as part of the provincial government’s budget-cutting plans.
“While this tentative agreement does not satisfy all of our concerns,” he stated, “we recognize the current environment we are in and the need for students to have stability once this emergency is over.”
OSSTF/FEESO local leaders are scheduled for a teleconference session to review the contract terms and determine whether or not to present them for a ratification vote by union members in May. Details of the proposed contract will not be released until after a ratification vote is held and the contract approved.
The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA), which represents teaching staff for Ontario English Catholic school districts, ratified its new three-year contract with the ministry earlier in April. The new contract, covering the 2019 to 2022 school terms, includes a one-per-cent annual wage increase and cost-of-living increase to funding for existing contract benefits.
The agreement between the ministry and the OECTA includes ministry guarantees of $67.3 million over the 2020-2022 school terms to aid in creating “additional teacher positions to provide flexibility” for special education, mental health services, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs at English Catholic schools. There will be no changes to current class sizes from Kindergarten to Grade 12.
The provincial government has also reached tentative agreements with the Ontario Council of Education Workers, the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens, and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.