Toronto, December 6, 2008 – The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA) is very disappointed that the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has failed to sign a four-year Provincial Discussion Table (PDT) agreement.
OPSBA’s proposal would have focussed additional resources on improving student achievement and on providing secure and safe learning environments. It would have provided higher salaries and more preparation time for teachers. It offered schools the peace, stability and confidence in continued progress that strengthens public education.
ETFO Executive has known the basic conditions of the agreement for months. They left the talks in May, and didn’t agree to return to the table until minutes before the November 30th deadline set by the Minister of Education for collective agreements to be signed. On the last day of the extended discussions, ETFO made demands that went far beyond those agreed to by all other unions.
ETFO’s demands would have resulted in unfunded costs to boards of over $260 million. If OPSBA had agreed to ETFO’s demands, this money would have had to come out of already-stretched budgets dedicated to support our students.
OPSBA has successfully negotiated agreements with all other teacher federations and employee groups in good faith. There is no good reason why the elementary teachers could not have reached an agreement.
“It is truly regrettable that ETFO has failed to sign on to a basic framework that was based upon ones agreed to by all other teacher federations in Ontario,” said Rick Johnson. “The Ministry of Education has made the consequences of not signing a provincial agreement clear since last May.”
A signed PDT agreement would have brought with it enhancements that go beyond salary increases. The government’s proposal included:
- Guaranteed salary increase of 12.55% over the next four year (3% per year with a compounding factor) for all elementary teachers;
- An increase of 40 minutes per week of planning time for all elementary teachers. This is in addition to the existing 200 minutes of planning time per week;
- Additional teachers in an era of declining enrolment, providing for:
- Targeted class size reductions in Grades 4 to 8;
- Student Success teachers and Literacy and Numeracy coaches in Grades 7 and 8;
- Additional arts and specialist teachers; and
- More funding for student supervision in elementary schools
“We will continue to bargain locally with our elementary teachers in good faith, but Boards can only agree to compensation and staffing levels for which the government has provided funding,” said Rick Johnson.
The interests of our students must continue to remain the first priority for all parties – there can be no disruption to their education. This is what parents expect of us and what students deserve.
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