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Ontario high school teachers ratify new deal with Ford government

Last Updated May 16, 2020 at 9:17 pm EDT

Striking teachers of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation walk the picket line outside of Northern Secondary School in Toronto on Dec. 4, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

The union which represents high school teachers in Ontario has ratified a new deal with the provincial government.

Teachers and support staff also represented by the Ontario Secondary Teachers’ Federation also voted to accept the agreement, which was reached back on April 20 following six months of protracted and difficult negotiations.

The teachers held rotating strikes for weeks, but ultimately put them on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

OSSTF president Harvey Bischof said while the deals are “imperfect” they provide the stability needed “in these trying times.”

“While we were able to fend off some of the Ford government’s most egregious attacks on education, members will not forget this government’s efforts to undermine publicly-funded education in Ontario,” Bischof said in a statement.

The Ford government had proposed requiring students take four e-learning courses to graduate as well as increasing the average high school class sizes from 22 to 28 – which would lead to thousands of fewer teachers in the system.

The government partly backed off on both issues, offering to instead increase average high school class sizes to 25 and require two online learning courses.

“It’s true that without our efforts things would have been much worse but larger classes, mandatory e-learning, and reduced funding for student supports will still be a reality in the province’s schools next September.”

“OSSTF/FEESO will continue the fight to reverse these destructive policies.” said Bischof.

Provincial unions representing the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association and the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens have also ratified agreements reached with the government earlier this year.

Terms of the deal were not released but The Canadian Press previously reported that both ETFO and the OECTA secured annual wage increases of one per cent and benefits increases of four per cent.

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report