Break down in talks between the elementary teachers’ union and the province

Mediated talks resumed on Wednesday

A mediator has called off talks between the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the province after three days of negotiations.

The mediator brought both sides back to the table on Wednesday for the first round of bargaining since mid-December.

Three days of talks brought some optimism things were on the upturn.

Based on statements from the Ford government and the union, that may have been misplaced.

In a statement issued late Friday night Minister of Education Stephen Lecce confirmed that “the mediator has called off discussions for now,” though he said that “the government stands ready to meet at any time.”

Lecce noted that the government attempted to move negotiations forward by offering to put it in writing that they will keep full day kindergarten, which he said was one of the unions “publicly-stated priorities.”

He said that the government also “continued to signal reasonableness on issues from special education supports to efforts to counter violence in schools.”

ETFO President Sam Hammond, however, said in a statement that it became “increasingly clear” through the course of negotiations that the government “was not willing to address key issues in any meaningful way.”

“Our members have made it very clear that they are committed to protecting public education, and they expect to see a bargaining outcome at the central table that supports the learning needs of their students,” Hammond said. “Agreeing to accept cuts to the funding that elementary students have had in previous years, and that they desperately need now, is not something that ETFO will consider.”

The union says it will proceed with a one-day province-wide strike on Thursday, February 6 and a series of rotating strikes, including one to hit public elementary schools in Muskoka, Haliburton and Kawartha Lakes on Monday, February 3 and in Simcoe County on Wednesday, February 5.