Teacher talks progressing well, Ontario's education minister says

TORONTO — Ontario's education minister says negotiations with teachers' unions are progressing well, one day after the government and education workers averted a strike with a tentative deal.

Stephen Lecce says talks with the teachers' unions have progressed throughout the summer and fall, but details will remain scarce as both sides have opted for confidentiality in negotiations.

Schools across Ontario were open Monday after a weekend of talks between the government and education workers secured a tentative contract.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees announced Sunday evening that it had a tentative deal and its 55,000 education worker members – including education assistants, librarians and custodians – would be on the job Monday, instead of going on strike.

The four-year deal comes with a $1-per-hour raise each year, or about 3.59 per cent annually.

Lecce says the deal represents a 4.2 per cent increase for the lowest-paid education workers making $39,000 per year.

Outside a north Toronto school Monday morning, Rokan Siker said he was glad to have his daughter learning in person instead of online, which would have been the case had a strike occurred.

"It is not just only learning, it is also physical activities," he said. "If she is staying home, she isn’t doing any physical activities, so it is not good for her.”

CUPE said though they had tried over the weekend to secure staffing level guarantees, the tentative deal is the same offer the government presented to the union last week.

However, Laura Walton, president of CUPE's Ontario School Board Council of Unions, said it was time to take the deal to the membership for a vote.

Ratification votes are set to begin Thursday and are expected to go through next weekend.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 21, 2022.

The Canadian Press