Toronto

Ontario Catholic teachers ratify labour deal with province

Members of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association have voted in favour of a labour deal that was reached with the provincial government last month. 

Province backed down on mandatory e-learning in agreement, reached March 12

Liz Stuart, president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, announced on March 12 that her union had struck a tentative deal with the province. (Mike Crawley/CBC)

Members of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) have voted in favour of a labour deal that was reached with the provincial government last month. 

Under the new agreement, OECTA said the government backed down on mandatory e-learning courses, which were announced by the province last year. 

The union also secured program funding for vulnerable students and enhanced processes related to the reporting of violence in the classroom. 

Additionally, the agreement allows the union to continue pursuing a court challenge to government wage-restraint legislation.

"This was a particularly difficult round of negotiations, in which the government was seeking to implement significant cuts to publicly funded education," Liz Stuart, OECTA's president, said in a news release on Wednesday. 

"Our bargaining team put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to reach an agreement that will allow Catholic teachers to continue providing high quality education over the long term."

Liz Stuart says the bargaining process between the union and province included more than 50 meetings. (Michael Charles Cole/CBC)

Tentative deal reached March 12

On March 12, Stuart announced that the union reached a tentative agreement with the province and suspended all strike action until the agreement was ratified.

OECTA represents some 45,000 elementary and secondary teachers in the publicly funded Catholic school system.

The deal makes OECTA the first of the four major teachers' unions to reach an agreement in a highly contentious round of bargaining.

OECTA said their union's bargaining process included more than 50 meetings. Catholic teachers also engaged in their first-ever province-wide strike action, including four one-day full withdrawals of service.

"Catholic teachers made it clear every step of the way that we would do what it took to stand up for students," Stuart said. 

The union said it will now begin negotiations between local OECTA units and Catholic school boards for their respective collective agreements — despite the COVID-19 pandemic putting the province under partial lockdown. 

"The COVID-19 emergency, and the challenges facing teachers, students, and families as we engage in this unique form of distance learning, are top of mind for everyone," Stuart said. 

"However, our association remains committed to beginning discussions with school boards and negotiating fair agreements as soon as possible."

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