Talks break off between province and English Catholic teachers union

Teachers with OECTA on the picket lines - Feb 4/20 (Blackburnnews.com photo by Josh Boyce)

The union that represents Ontario’s English Catholic teachers is going over its options after talks with the province broke off Monday night.

“The government was told it was their responsibility to come to the table this week with a plan to reach an agreement,” read a statement from Liz Stuart, the president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association. “This did not occur.”

“His [Education Minister Stephen Lecce] bargaining team held firm to their agenda to take resources out of the classroom,” continued Stuart, saying, “At times, it seems they have no real intention of negotiating an agreement.”

The break down in negotiations comes after the union agreed to suspend planned rotating strikes this week.

Just hours earlier, Education Minister Stephen Lecce told fellow Members of Provincial Parliament his government was bargaining in good faith.

Stuart has asked the mediator if further negotiations are “worthwhile,” or if the two sides are too far apart to reach a tentative deal.

“While our administrative job action continues, OECTA will also be considering options for further strike action,” wrote Stuart.

French Language teachers plan to walk off the job on Thursday, as their union escalates pressure on the province to reach a deal.

The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario has given the provincial government two weeks to reach an agreement, or President Sam Hammond said his union would move to Phase 7 of its strike protocol. So far, ETFO has not fully explained what Phase 7 is, but members will ramp up job action starting March 9.

As of Wednesday, ETFO teachers will no longer cover absences in the classroom, upload data related to assessments, or use out-of-pocket funds to pay for classroom supplies.