Tentative deal reached for public elementary teachers

ETFO members picket outside Campbell Public School in Windsor, February 7, 2020. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

Following months of job action across the province, the union representing public elementary school educators has reached a tentative agreement with the Ontario government.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) announced the development Friday evening and said separate agreements have been negotiated for unionized teachers and education workers. Further details of the agreements will not be released until they have been ratified by union members.

“This has been a very prolonged and difficult bargaining process,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond. in a news release. “We are very grateful for the support and unwavering solidarity of our members, and the public who have continued to stand up for public education and the supports that our students and educators need now and in the future.”

The details of the new agreements will be reviewed with union leaders and members later in the week. The process for holding a ratification vote will also be discussed.

ETFO members conducted months of rotating strikes and work-to-rule action while talks with the province continued to stall over a number of issues including special education funds, class sizes, and hiring practices.

The union said on Friday it will be suspending any strike action pending the results of separate ratification votes.

Elementary schools in Ontario are currently slated to remain closed until April 6 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Premier Doug Ford said on Friday that the closures are likely to be extended.

ETFO represents 83,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals across the province.