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Ontario English Catholic teachers move closer to legal strike position

Last Updated Nov 29, 2019 at 9:27 pm EDT

Ontario's minister of education Stephen Lecce . THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston

Ontario’s education minister says the union representing the province’s English Catholic teachers is moving closer to a legal strike position.

Stephen Lecce says the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) requested a “no-board” report on Friday. That process will take a few days but once that happens, 45,000 Catholic elementary and high school teachers would be in a legal strike position 17 days later.

Earlier this month, the teachers voted 97 per cent in favour of a strike.

The union’s president said that vote sends a message to the government that members won’t accept an agreement that would be detrimental to learning and working conditions in schools.

“This evening, OECTA requested a conciliator file a ‘no-board’ report, after it became evident the government has no intention of reversing their reckless cuts,” the union tweeted.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, the union said they were hopeful the two sides could move forward despite the “challenges created at the bargaining table by the government.”

“While we continue to work constructively with the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association, the government is holding firm on their desire to make devastating cuts to Ontario’s publicly funded education system,” read the brief statement.

Lecce says he’s disappointed that OECTA has decided to take another step on the path to job action.

“I’ve been clear – I want to get deals that keep the children of this province in school,” he said in a statement. “My team is ready to continue meeting to negotiate a deal that puts our students first and provides the predictability parents deserve.”