After-school clubs and competitive sports could be back soon at public high schools after the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) voted Friday to recommend that teachers restore extracurricular activities.
Public high school and elementary school teachers stopped running clubs and coaching sports in protest of the controversial Bill 115, which imposed two-year contracts on them in January when their collective agreements expired on Dec. 31.
Both sides are now trying to restore a damaged relationship and Friday’s vote is being touted as a powerful starting point.
“Today’s news is a great indication of the hard work all parties are putting into the repair of this valued relationship,” Premier Kathleen Wynne said in a release. “It shows our willingness to work together, to listen to one another’s concerns, and to find common ground on which we can rebuild a foundation of trust and create an effective process going forward.”
OSSTF president Ken Coran said teachers will still have the final say on the matter, but he’s hopeful they’ll be on board with the union’s recommendation.
“We encourage members to review recent information and decide if they are willing to return to participating in the activities we know they feel so passionately about.”
Coran is also hopeful that the vote will serve as a bridge in talks with the government.
“We expect that this sign of good will from our members will prompt the government to have genuine discussions that can lead to a fair resolution to this current impasse.”
The union will hold a press conference on Monday at 9:30 a.m.
The two sides have been at odds ever since the minority Liberal government introduced the legislation in September with teachers showing their frustration by holding rotating, one-day strikes in December.
They also threatened to hold a provincewide political day of protest on Jan.11, but the Ontario Labour Relations Board ruled in the 11th hour that such a demonstration would be an “unlawful.”
The unions have launched a challenge of Bill 115 which is still working its ways through the courts.