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Last Ontario teachers' union reaches tentative deal with province

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The last of four unions representing Ontario teachers has come to a tentative deal with the provincial government.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced the new central agreement with the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) Tuesday morning.

“For the first time in nearly a generation, Ontario’s government successfully negotiated deals with all teacher unions that averted strikes or the withdrawal of services,” Lecce said in a statement.

“We fulfilled our promise to Ontario families: to deliver peace and stability to students, as we get back-to-basics in Ontario classrooms.”

OECTA represents more than 36,500 teachers employed by English Catholic publicly-funded school boards in Ontario.

In early December, the union announced it was moving to conciliation, a formal mediation process in which a third-party is brought in to work with both sides and help find a resolution.

It’s a common process prior to union members engaging in strikes or work action. About 97 per cent of its members voted in favour of a strike.

In a statement, OECTA says the more than 20-month negotiating process is “proof that free and fair collective bargaining works.”

“We want to thank Catholic teachers, as well as the students and families we serve, for their patience during this exceptionally long bargaining period,” spokesperson Michelle Despault said in a statement.

“Our goal – as always – is to reach the best possible deal to better support all students and teachers, and to address key issues facing publicly funded schools in our communities across Ontario.”

The specific details of the agreement will remain confidential pending ratification by OECTA members, which they say will happen on March 26 and March 27.

However, Lecce hinted that some issues in the collective agreement have gone to binding arbitration—when a third-party is brought in to make the final decision on any unresolved points of contention. One of those issues will be salary.

The province has also reached deals with the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, and the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariariens.

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