Education minister offers mediator amid escalating tensions with teachers unions
TORONTO -- Education Minister Stephen Lecce wants to bring in a mediator to help further negotiations with Ontario's teachers, as talks continue to stall and unions threaten job action.
The offer was made amid escalating tensions with teachers unions, who have been without a contract since the beginning of the school year.
The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, representing the province's public elementary teachers is slated to begin a work to rule campaign on Nov. 26, citing a lack of progress at the bargaining table.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, representing public high school teachers, announced today that teachers voted 95 per cent in favour of strike action. The union also represents education workers who voted 92 per cent in favour of taking strike action.
The OSSTF is already in a legal strike position as of today, though it's also required to give five days' notice before a strike and has not yet done so.
Unions were notified of an offer to bring in a third-party mediator Monday morning, but have yet to publicly accept that offer.
The province was able to land a contract with the Canadian union of public employees, which represents school support workers, with the help of a mediator in September, hours before unionized workers were set to go on strike.
The province relied on Bill Kaplan during those negotiations, although it's unclear whether he will return to help mediate talks with other education sector unions.
Catholic teachers file for conciliation
The union representing Catholic teachers has asked the ministry of labour to appoint a conciliator to help with its bargaining process, claiming the government has been trying to "derail the process."
The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) received a 97.1 per cent strike mandate last week, although the union has yet to enter a legal strike position.
OECTA says while they have been able to make “significant progress” during nearly 30 bargaining dates, the government has not backed down on “drastic cuts” and has shows a “lack of understanding or respect” for the process.
“During the most recent bargaining session on Friday, Nov. 15m the government abruptly informed us they are withdrawing some proposals and dismissing their bargaining representatives,” OECTA President Liz Stuart said in a news release.
“At this point, we do not even know who represents the government at the negotiating table.”