Extracurricular activities to return to Ontario public elementary schools
Union says it is 'suspending' its earlier advice to members due to 'progress' in government talks
The union representing Ontario's public elementary school teachers has told its members they can resume extracurricular activities due to "progress" in its discussions with the provincial government.
The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario said in a statement Tuesday night that it was "suspending" its earlier advisory to members to hold off on voluntary or extracurricular activities amid an ongoing labour dispute with provincial leaders.
Sam Hammond, the president of the ETFO, said the union has been in talks with Premier Kathleen Wynne's government since February and its "now confident that the government has demonstrated a commitment to dealing with concrete items of importance to our members.
"In light of the progress made during these discussions and a commitment that talks to address outstanding issues will continue, ETFO is suspending its advice to members regarding voluntary/extracurricular activities," said Hammond.
Elementary public school teachers across Ontario had stopped supervising student activities for months in response to a labour dispute with the province.
Teachers had decided on the tactic as a way to show their displeasure with Bill 115, which was passed by the provincial legislature earlier this year. The bill imposed a contract on teachers in Ontario, denying them the opportunity to negotiate a deal with the province.
Just last month, despite a change in the provincial government's approach under Wynne, the ETFO said it planned to continue its protest because it had not seen "real change."
Premier Kathleen Wynne said Tuesday she was "happy" to learn of the ETFO's change in stance.
"I hope that elementary school students, teachers and support staff across the province will once again enjoy the activities and programs that mean so much to them," she said in a statement released Tuesday.
"Today's news is a great indication of the hard work all parties are putting into the repair of this valued relationship."
Secondary public school teachers had also suspended participation in extracurricular activities until last month, when its union leaders agreed to "suspend political action regarding voluntary activities."
However, the Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers' Federation said not all teachers will resume extracurriculars, as it will be up to each individual teacher to decide.