A timeline for teacher labour issues
Ontario’s four education federations are at various stages of negotiations with the province and provincial school board associations – each with its own timelines.
Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF)
On November 18th, the OSSTF announced that 92% of their members have voted to give their union a strike mandate. The union has already taken the steps to put them in a legal strike position, including obtaining a “no board report” from the Ministry of Education conciliator. They must give 5 days’ notice before any job action begins. On November 21st, OSSTF announced they would begin a work to rule on November 26th.
According to OSSTF, the main issues at stake include:
- significant reductions in numbers of teacher and educational support positions due to funding cuts by the province
- class size funding
- the province’s newly passed legislation which mandates a 1% cap in salary increases for public servants. This salary cap is below the rate of inflation, which currently stands at 1.9%. OSSTF has proposed the introduction of (annual) Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA). This would keep real wage increases at 0% because they would take inflation into account.
During the work to rule, OSSTF members will not participate in a number of activities, including:
- Providing comments on report cards
- Participating in EQAO preparation or testing
- Completing or submitting Ministry of Education Data Reports
- Participating in professional activities based on Ministry of Education or School Board Initiatives
- Participating in unpaid staff meetings outside the regular school day
Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO)
ETFO is also negotiating over job losses and salary increases. In addition, they are negotiating about the staffing for full day kindergarten classes, which currently have a full-time teacher and a full-time early childhood educator.
ETFO also has a “no board report” in place, and has announced that if there is no settlement, they will start a work to rule campaign on Tuesday, November 26th.
According to ETFO, this first phase of their work to rule means that teachers will not:
- Complete or file the Term 1 Report Cards, but they will provide the school administrator with a class list of marks for the various subjects/strands taught, or one brief comment per frame for the Kindergarten Communication of Learning
- Participate in school board or Ministry of Education professional learning offered outside the school day, in any Ministry of Education online training or webinars, or in school board activities on Professional Activity (PA) Days
- Participate in activities related to the Fundamentals of Math Strategyor in the development of the new Math Proficiency test for faculty of education students;
- Participate in any EQAO-related activities
- Complete surveys or data collection activities
- Attend meetings with Ministry of Education Achievement officers, or staff/division/grade team meetings
- Participate in school board or school improvement planning activities or any school board committees
- Respond to electronic communications from the school administrator/direct supervisor for non-school-based staff, outside of the instructional day
- Participate on any school board writing team or in school board curriculum/resource development.
Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA)
On November 13th, OECTA announced that 97% of its members had voted in favour of authorizing strike action. They have not yet completed all the steps necessary to put them in a legal strike position, but they have begun. Just as with OSSTF, OECTA would have to give 5 days’ notice before a strike. On November 18th, OECTA filed a request for conciliation, and on November 20th, OECTA issued a release describing a breakdown in bargaining. A job action by OECTA could not begin until at least the first week in December.
The Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO)
If there is no settlement, the French-language teachers’ association will hold strike votes in December. The AEFO recently turned down a government offer of mediation, stating that before they would accept mediation, the government would have to withdraw demands which AEFO characterizes as setting teachers’ working conditions and students learning conditions back 10 to 15 years.