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ETFO: A deal was within reach last Friday. Then the government abruptly tabled impossible options that ended talks.

February 4, 2020

Toronto, ON – The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) says that a deal was within reach last Friday after three days of central bargaining talks until the government abruptly changed its position at the eleventh hour.

“ETFO, school board associations and the government were close to an agreement on Friday that would have been good for students, educators and public education. It would have ensured stability in public elementary schools this week,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond. “Then, late that day, the government’s negotiators changed course and tabled impossible options they knew ETFO could not accept.”
 
“I want to set the record straight,” continued Hammond. “Unlike the Minister of Education, I was at the bargaining table last week so I know what was discussed. Despite what Minister Lecce is claiming, salary was not addressed during those negotiations, and government negotiators did not sign a letter of commitment to maintain the Kindergarten model.”

“On Friday, the government’s position around special education funding remained less than half the priority and special education funding negotiated in 2017. This funding was of great benefit to vulnerable students.”
 
“An agreement was also within reach on maintaining a long-standing regulation that ensures fair and transparent hiring processes for teachers. Government negotiators then introduced demands for major concessions around fair hiring.”

“We have to question what the government’s motivation was when it abruptly changed its tactics at the last minute. Rather than ‘keep kids in the classroom’, which Education Minister Stephen Lecce says is his goal, this government is deliberately creating chaos in our education system,” added Hammond.

“The Ford government knows that the public is supporting teachers and educators who are advocating for their students and trying to protect our world-class public education system, and this government is willing to scuttle agreements to try and erode that support.”

ETFO represents 83,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals across the province.

For more information, contact ETFO Media Relations:
Valerie Dugale, 1-888-838-3836 x2331, cell: 416-948-0195, vdugale@etfo.org