The union representing Ontario secondary school teachers has ratified a proposal to continue bargaining with the province for the next month, which includes binding arbitration.
Late Wednesday evening, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation announced that after a three-week long voting period, members have voted in approval of a proposal that will put all unresolved items with the provincial government before an independent, third-party arbitrator, should the two sides not come to an agreement by October 27. Local bargaining across the province will continue until March 28, 2024, with any remaining items that have not been settled, sent to arbitration.
“After 5 years of underfunding and underspending under the Ford administration, our top priority is to get the best possible deal for OSSTF/FEESO Members while working to protect public education in Ontario,” read a statement from OSSTF/FEESO President Karen Littlewood.
The bargaining proposal was adopted with 78.4 per cent of its 60,000 members in support.
This approved deal will ensure there are no strikes or lockouts during this round of negotiations with the Ministry of Education.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce issued a statement Wednesday night saying he’s pleased members have voted in favour of the agreement.
“This is a significant step forward in providing stability for high school students. I believe strongly that every student deserves this certainty,” said Lecce.
Meanwhile, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario held strike votes last week which will continue through until October 17. With members of the OSSTF voting to ratify this bargaining agreement, Lecce is urging the other education unions, including the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association, and the Association of Franco-Ontarian Teachers to do the same.
“With the approval of this agreement, I am calling on all outstanding education unions to reach a deal and end the delay. Nothing should matter more than students being in class and benefiting from uninterrupted learning for the next three years, with an enhanced focus on reading, writing and math,” Lecce said.
Teachers across the province have been without contracts since August 2022.