The province and elementary teachers’ union reach a tentative deal

Ratification vote will take place next week

Labour peace is on the horizon at Ontario’s elementary schools.

Months of bargaining has resulted in a tentative agreement between the Ford government and Ontario’s public elementary teachers.

Talks between the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario-which represents more than 80,000 educators-resumed March 11 after a series of one-day strikes since mid-January.

The province announced a tentative deal with the union in a statement on Friday evening.

“Our Government is pleased to announce a tentative agreement has been reached between the Crown, ETFO teachers and education workers, and the school boards trustees’ associations,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

The sticky points during the negotiations focused on increases to class sizes and the government’s demand on limiting any pay increase to one per cent, which is below the rate of inflation.

Lecce said the government was committed to full-day kindergarten and maintaining class sizes, investing in special education, and a fair increase in compensation.

The government held firm on its effort to legislate a salary increase cap of one per cent, yet partially backtracked on the issue of mandatory e-learning and class sizes.

In a statement, ETFO President Sam Hammond said the bargaining process was very prolonged and difficult.

“We are very grateful for the support and unwavering solidarity of our members, and the public who have continued to stand up for public education and the supports that our students and educators need now and in the future.”

Union members will hold a ratification vote next week.

The only two groups still left without a deal is the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation and the union representing teachers in the French-language system.