Ontario’s high school teachers won’t be starting job action Wednesday as union leaders have pushed back a deadline for strike action at the last minute.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation put out a press release late Tuesday night, hours before teachers were set to cut back on administrative duties such as hallway supervision and staff meetings, to say negotiations with the provincial government had resumed.
In light of the talks, the OSSTF is directing its members – many of whom will be in a legal strike position as of Wednesday – to hold off on job action until Nov. 11.
The news will likely provide some relief for Toronto families who were facing the prospect of delayed mid-term report cards with potentially empty comment sections. (The OSSTF’s Toronto local had been directing its members to submit marks to principals rather than inputting information into the school board’s centralized system.)
Negotiations between OSSTF and the province fell apart last spring, but president Ken Coran said last Saturday that he had recently had a “hopeful” meeting with the Minister of Education.
His union has proposed creating a provincial benefits plan for educators and allowing unions to take over the financial liabilities, a move Mr. Coran said could save $419-million and could help the province recover from a $15-billion deficit.
Some teachers have been withholding voluntary services, things like coaching sports teams and supervising clubs, since the second week of school, when the Ontario government legislated the terms of their contract through Bill 115. Teachers took issue with the bill because it imposed cuts to their sick days, a partial freeze to pay raises for new teachers and restricted their ability to strike.