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High school teachers union reaches agreement with province

DAN CEARNS Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

NORTH DURHAM/KAWARTHA LAKES: The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) and the provincial government have reached a tentative collective bargaining agreement. On Monday, April 20th, an announcement was made regarding OSSTF reaching deals with the Ontario government and the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association at the central bargaining table. “Our priority has always been to reach good deals with teachers’ and education workers’ unions, that advance the priorities of students and parents. That is exactly what we have done by reaching deals with every education union in this province, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said, in a statement. “We will remain focused on the government’s dual priority of keeping students safe while ensuring the continuity of education. Moreover, we remain determined to continuously strengthen teacher-led learning and virtual learning for the benefit of our students, and we continue to look to our educators to rise to the challenge and deliver quality education to every child, wherever they may live.” OSSTF President Harvey Bischof expressed, in a press release, the current pandemic situation played a part in pushing this deal forward. “These are extraordinary times. When we began negotiations nearly a year ago, no one could have anticipated the situation we face today,” he said. “Our main priority has been to protect the education system by reaching a deal that respects our members and ensures students get the best education possible. We thank our members for their support, solidarity, and sacrifice during these many months of negotiations. Our union remains stronger and more united because of their demonstrated commitment on the front lines across this province.” Though Mr. Bischof added months of negotiating did make a difference. “With the support of the public and our members, we mounted a strong public awareness campaign that highlighted the government’s dangerous approach to education. As a result of our combined efforts, this government, although early in its term and holding a majority, was pushed back from some of its most egregious proposals,” he said, in the press release. “While this tentative agreement does not satisfy all of our concerns, we recognize the current environment we are in and the need for students to have stability once this emergency is over.” OSSTF outlined their next steps, following this agreement, in the press release. “OSSTF/FEESO’s local leaders, from across the province, will meet, via teleconference in the coming days, to review the tentative agreements and determine, according to the union’s established processes, whether or not to forward them to the membership for a ratification vote. Member ratification votes are tentatively planned for May.”

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