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Ontario English Catholic teachers take next step towards possible strike

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Ontario English Catholic teachers are taking the next step towards a possible strike as negotiations with the province come to a stalemate.

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) is one of three teachers’ unions still without a tentative deal.

In a statement, President René Jansen in de Wal said the bargaining process is coming up to 18 months.

“While the process continues to move forward – with a clear improvement in tone at the table since our overwhelming 97 per cent strike vote – realizing actual progress remains extremely slow,” he said in a statement.

“Catholic teachers have been beyond patient, especially as other education affiliates reach tentative agreements. Given these agreements, we are hopeful that, with the support and expertise of an appointed conciliator, we can make more significant progress, quicker.”

Conciliation is 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 any strikes or work action.

In a statement, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said called the decision "disappointing," but added the province "will work with the conciliator to reach a fair deal that provides stability for families."

"We've already reached tentative agreements with OSSTF and ETFO, and we urge OECTA to do the same by coming to the table and signing a deal that keeps students in class.”

The union representing Ontario elementary teachers also took their bargaining to conciliation months before they were able to get a tentative deal with the province.

That deal, which sent the issue of wages to binding arbitration, has not yet been ratified.

The union representing Ontario secondary teachers has moved their entire bargaining process to binding arbitration, while the union representing French-language teachers remains in negotiations and has yet to hold a strike vote.

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