Catholic teachers ratify central terms of new contract

Members of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association picket outside (January 21, 2020). (Photo by Maureen Revait)

Ontario’s English Catholic teachers have voted to accept the central terms of a new three-year contract, following repeated strike action that included their first-ever province-wide walkout.

The union representing the teachers, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA), announced on Wednesday that its members had ratified the central terms of the collective agreement that had been reached by the union, the Ontario government and the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association on March 12.

“We have secured funding for programs and supports for vulnerable students, ensured that no student has to participate in mandatory e-learning, and enhanced processes related to the reporting of violence in the classroom,” said OECTA President Liz Stuart in a news release.

The recent agreement will also allow OECTA to continue pursuing a Charter challenge against the government’s cap on compensation increases.

The ratification is a culmination of a bargaining process that included more than 50 meetings with the province, four one-day full withdrawals of service by Catholic teachers, and their first-ever province-wide strike.

“This was a particularly difficult round of negotiations, in which the government was seeking to implement significant cuts to publicly funded education,” said OECTA President Liz Stuart in a news release. “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.”

Negotiations between local OECTA units and each school board will now take place to reach the local terms of their respective collective agreements.

“Our Association remains committed to beginning discussions with school boards and negotiating fair agreements as soon as possible,” said Stuart.

OECTA represents 45,000 teachers in Ontario’s publicly funded English Catholic schools, from Kindergarten to Grade 12.