Catholic teachers, province to resume contract talks Wednesday

Members of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association picket outside of the Ford Engine Plant where Premier Ford was rumoured to be Tuesday, January 21, 2020. (Photo by Maureen Revait)

One day before contract talks with the Ford government are set to resume, the union representing Ontario’s English Catholic teachers has announced it will hold rotating strikes across the province next week.

The escalated job action by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) will only take place if the two sides are unable to reach a deal when they return to the bargaining table on Wednesday.

“We are ready to get back to the table, but the government needs to recognize that these discussions must be about protecting our world-renowned publicly funded education system,” OECTA President Liz Stuart said in a statement. “They keep talking about being reasonable, but there is nothing reasonable about cutting supports for vulnerable students, nothing reasonable about increasing class sizes and reducing course options, and nothing reasonable about imposing mandatory e-learning.”

Talks between the union and government broke down in January, but a provincially appointed mediator has now requested that the two-sides resume negotiations.

Catholic teachers launched a work-to-rule campaign on January 13. Since then they have walked off the job twice – once on January 21 and again on February 4. They are also scheduled to join Ontario’s three other major teachers’ unions in a coordinated province-wide strike this Friday.

“The government may have thought they could drag these negotiations out and wear everyone down, but their scheme is not working,” said Stuart. “Ontarians want an agreement to be reached, but not at the expense of the long-term interests of our students and schools.”

Education Minister Stephen Lecce has said he is pleased the mediator has called all parties back to the negotiating table.

“Students belong in class. My objective has always been to reach deals with our education labour partners – deals that are fair to students, hard-working parents, and our valued teachers and education workers,” Lecce said in a statement on Tuesday. “The government has demonstrated our commitment to reaching a deal by affirming our commitment to maintaining all-day kindergarten, investing in special education needs, and keeping classroom sizes low.”

The full list of next week’s planned rotating strikes by the OECTA can be found by clicking here.