Talks break off between province and OSSTF, union says 1-day strike will go ahead
Talks will resume in January, Ontario Public School Boards’ Association spokesperson says
The union that represents public high school teachers and many education workers in Ontario says a one-day strike in 10 boards will proceed on Wednesday now that contract talks with the province have broken off.
Talks ended on Monday, after just one day of negotiating, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) has confirmed.
The union and province were scheduled to continue negotiating on Tuesday but the mediator says both sides are too far apart to bother resuming.
Negotiations will not begin again until January, a spokesperson for the Ontario Public School Boards' Association told CBC Toronto.
"The mediators have suggested that the parties use the holidays to consider their positions, and have therefore suggested tomorrow's meeting be cancelled," the spokesperson said in an email.
"The mediators will call the parties in the new year to discuss next steps."
In addition to public high school teachers, the OSSTF represents occasional teachers, educational assistants, continuing education teachers and instructors, early childhood educators, psychologists, secretaries, speech-language pathologists, social workers, plant support staff and university support staff.
According to the union, the issues are class sizes, mandatory online courses and funding cuts. The Ontario education ministry said the main issue is compensation.
In a statement, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said he is frustrated and disappointed by the union's actions at the bargaining table.
"They came forward today with no new proposals, no changes to their position, and no ideas on how to advance negotiations," Lecce said.
As for the strike on Wednesday, the OSSTF says these school boards will be affected:
- Lakehead District School Board.
- Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board.
- Lambton Kent District School Board.
- Thames Valley District School Board.
- Waterloo Region District School Board.
- Waterloo Catholic District School Board.
- York Region District School Board.
- York Catholic District School Board.
- Halton District School Board.
- Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board.
Several French school boards are also expected to be affected.
The labour action follows a one-day, province-wide walkout on Dec. 4, and a similar walkout in select areas in the province on Dec. 11.
The teachers have been without a contract since their last one expired at the end of August, and their union has blamed the Progressive Conservative government for the lack of progress in their negotiations.
With files from Mike Crawley