English Catholic teachers ratify new deal with province

TORONTO – Members of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) have ratified a new agreement with the provincial government.

“This was a particularly difficult round of negotiations, in which the government was seeking to implement significant cuts to publicly funded education,” stated  OECTA president Liz Stuart on April 9, one day after the ratification.

“Our bargaining team put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to reach an agreement that will allow Catholic teachers to continue providing high quality education over the long term.”

The agreement between OECTA, the government, and the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA) was originally reached on March 12, after months of strike action and a bargaining process with more than 50 meetings.

“Catholic teachers made it clear every step of the way that we would do what it took to stand up for students,” stated Stuart.

“As a result … we have secured funding for programs and supports for vulnerable students, ensured that no student has to participate in mandatory e-learning, and enhanced processes related to the reporting of violence in the classroom.”

Education minister Stephen Lecce congratulated OECTA and OCSTA members on the ratification.

“We will continue to advance efforts that improve and modernize Ontario’s education system and serve the needs of students and their families, while being fiscally responsible,” Lecce stated on April 9.

“Our aim is to ensure our system is responsive and adaptive to the challenges on the horizon, and we have full confidence that educators will rise to the challenge and work hard to ensure students learn and succeed.”

The agreement allows OECTA to continue pursuing a Charter challenge against what it calls the government’s “unconstitutional” cap on compensation increases (one per cent).

The agreement does not include a “me-too” clause (past agreements have included such a clause, which essentially provided OECTA the same deals later signed by other educator unions).

Local OECTA units and Catholic school boards will now begin negotiations for the local terms of their respective collective agreements.