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Ontario reaches tentative deal with elementary education workers

Ontario has reached a tentative agreement with the 3,500 education workers represented by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO).

In a news release issued Friday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced the deal and said it will help keep kids in class.

“We are taking an important step towards delivering on this priority by announcing another tentative central agreement with the ETFO Education Workers, helping to bring stability to families and elementary students in Ontario,” Lecce said.

An agreement has not yet been reached for ETFO’s 80,000 teacher and occasional teacher members.

"I think we're moing in the right direction," Lecce told CP24 Friday afternoon, when asked about striking a deal with the teachers.

"The government has put forth interest arbitration as an option. If we can agree, we have a fair, independent system to render an outcome that avoids a strike and that's my priority," Lecce added.

“This tentative agreement acknowledges the significance of education workers in our schools and values the daily contributions they make to enhance students’ educational experience,” Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA) President Cathy Abraham said in a release following the announcement.

The OPSBA says ETFO education workers are represented in a dozen of its member boards and one school authority, including Durham DSB, Halton DSB, Hamilton-Wentworth DSB and Rainbow DSB.

“After a prolonged and difficult bargaining process, we are pleased to be able to bring forward a tentative central agreement to our education worker members that addresses their key bargaining goals,” ETFO President Karen Brown said in a release.

“As we have been reminding the Ford government all along, tentative agreements are possible when all parties are genuinely engaged and when you give the legal bargaining process a chance.”

ETFO has rejected a proposal tentatively agreed to by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) in late August that would see binding arbitration to avoid any chance of a strike.

ETFO is holding votes for its members until Oct. 17 to obtain a strike mandate in negotiations. Brown said if they do obtain a strike mandate, it doesn’t necessarily mean walkouts will happen.

“A strong strike vote result will help ETFO communicate to the Ford government that they must get serious about bargaining,” Brown said in a written statement.

The union said Friday details of the agreement will be shared with its education worker members following a meeting with their local president and chief negotiators, adding a ratification vote is currently being scheduled.

With files from Katherine DeClerq and The Canadian Press Top Stories

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