Province, OSSTF reach tentative agreement

WELLINGTON COUNTY – The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) and the province have reached a tentative agreement.

The deal, announced on April 20, marks the end of months of union strike action, as well as posturing from both sides.

OSSTF President Harvey Bischof acknowledged the tentative agreement does not satisfy all the union’s concerns, but he stressed the importance of stability for students once the COVID-19 crisis is over.

“These are extraordinary times. When we began negotiations nearly a year ago, no one could have anticipated the situation we face today,” Bischof stated in a press release.

“Our main priority has been to protect the education system by reaching a deal that respects our members and ensures students get the best education possible.”

Bischof added, “With the support of the public and our members, we mounted a strong public awareness campaign that highlighted the government’s dangerous approach to education.

“As a result of our combined efforts, this government, although early in its term and holding a majority, was pushed back from some of its most egregious proposals.”

The province has now reached agreements with all four of Ontario’s major educators’ unions.

Education minister Stephen Lecce said the province’s priority “has always been to reach good deals with teachers’ and education workers’ unions, that advance the priorities of students and parents.

“That is exactly what we have done by reaching deals with every education union in this province.”

Lecce added the province “will remain focused on the government’s dual priority of keeping students safe while ensuring the continuity of education.

“Moreover, we remain determined to continuously strengthen teacher-led learning and virtual learning for the benefit of our students, and we continue to look to our educators to rise to the challenge and deliver quality education to every child, wherever they may live.”

OSSTF’s local leaders will meet via teleconference “in the coming days” to review the tentative agreements and determine whether or not to forward them to members for ratification, union officials say.

Ratification votes are planned for May.