Ontario elementary teachers 'confident' deal can be struck

Ontario's public elementary teachers union says its reached "understandings" with the provincial government as both sides work towards a tentative agreement.

Public teachers' union reaches 'understandings' with Wynne government

Ontario’s public elementary teachers union says its reached "understandings" with the provincial government as both sides work towards a tentative agreement.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, which represents over 76,000 teachers, said in a release that both sides reached consensus on maternity leave, sick leave, and retirement gratuity.

The two sides have been in talks since February.

According to the CBC’s parliamentary affairs reporter Mike Crawley, ETFO president Sam Hammond said during an afternoon press conference that he was confident an agreement would be reached, but couldn’t comment on how long it might take.

Last month, the ETFO advised its members to resume supervising extracurricular activities after "progress" had been made between the union and provincial leaders.

Among the agreements reportedly reached between the two sides is an increase in payouts for new teachers' unused sick days. The union also said in its release that the new deal wouldn’t require any new money from the province.

Crawley said Hammond told reporters he couldn’t "say there were any savings found through this process," suggesting the government found money elsewhere.

Hammond also said the difference in tone between talks with the Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government were "night and day" compared to the McGuinty government.

Imposed contracts

In September, the province passed anti-strike legislation, also known as Bill 115, which resulted in elementary teachers staging rotation one-day strikes across the province.

The government used the law in January to impose two-year contracts on elementary and secondary teachers, resulting in wage freezes and a reduction in the number of sick days allowed.

The bill was then repealed later that month after the contracts were put into place. 

Newly appointed Education Minister Liz Sandals said over the weekend that the government had reached an "agreement in principle" with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation over the ongoing labour dispute.

Both deals, if ratified, would amend the existing contracts put in place during Bill 115.