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ETFO says Ontario government violated bargaining obligation with release of education memo


The union representing Ontario's elementary teachers has filed a complaint with the province's labour tribunal, accusing the government of failing to bargain in good faith over the release of an education memorandum last month.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) said the complaint was filed with the Ontario Labour Relations Board on Tuesday, citing that the Ford government violated its obligations under the bargaining legislation when it sent out a memo on July 28 directing school boards to complete annual early screenings for all students in Year 2 of Kindergarten through Grade 2.

ETFO, which is currently negotiating a new collective agreement with the government, said by releasing the memo during bargaining with early reading screening among the issues on the table, the province "has violated the good faith duties imposed on all parties by education and bargaining legislation."

The union added that a statutory freeze is in effect, which means the previous agreement that expired in August 2022 remains in force.

ETFO also noted the memo is in conflict with the terms of that collective agreement, there is a language that gives teachers to exercise their professional judgement when choosing and implementing diagnostic tests.

"Early reading screening is an active subject of bargaining. The government knows that teachers already do assess and test students' literacy and numeracy abilities. The government was well aware that some of the positions it was taking at the table violated professional judgement language in our collective agreement," ETFO President Karen Brown said in a statement.

"Rather than working with us collaboratively, rather than respecting the bargaining process, the government reverted to its true form and imposed a policy that violates both our members' collective agreement rights and labour law in this province."

ETFO stated in the complaint that the introduction of the memo and the timing of its release "came to a shock to them."

The union added that the memo now serves as a "major impediment to further central bargaining."

"It is difficult to see how further bargaining at the central table could be productive until this issue is resolved," ETFO stated.

That's why the union has requested an expedited hearing so it can be resolved with minimal disruption to either negotiations or the upcoming school year.

The Ministry of Education said that the new reading screener and the other changes in the curriculum were developed with the help of feedback from unions and other stakeholders.

“Our government understands that the status quo is not acceptable and is determined to lift standards and outcomes in Ontario’s education system when it comes to reading, writing, and math skills,” ministry spokesperson Grace Lee said in a statement.

She added in an interview with CP24 that the government has been ready to get a fair deal with teachers ahead of the school year to ensure that there will be no disruptions to learning. Top Stories

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