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Canada Ontario high-school teachers, support staff sign off on labour deal

Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation President Ken Coran said teachers “exercised their democratic rights within our federation to vote on the changes to the working conditions that were imposed on us by the Ontario government in January and they have voted to endorse those changes.”

Galit Rodan/The Globe and Mail

Ontario's high-school teachers and support staff voted in favour of a deal that will boost compensation for newer teachers and bring labour peace to the province's public secondary schools.

The agreement won 84-per-cent approval from members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, the union said Thursday evening.

The deal reached with the government alters terms imposed through legislation earlier this year. It reduces a pay cut imposed through legislation from a mandatory three unpaid professional development days to one (or possibly two at some school boards, depending on negotiations). It also improves payouts for younger teachers who lost their banked sick days under the legislated contract terms.

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"Our members have exercised their democratic rights within our federation to vote on the changes to the working conditions that were imposed on us by the Ontario government in January and they have voted to endorse those changes," OSSTF president Ken Coran said in a statement.

Talks are ongoing with the union for elementary teachers. Union leaders recently advised members to restore extracurricular activities in time for the spring sports season, Grade 8 graduations and end-of-year field trips. Leaders say talks with the government are close to yielding a tentative deal.

Pressure has been mounting on union leaders to reach an agreement as public sentiment turned against teachers and Ontario families considered moving their children to the Catholic and private-school systems, where teachers' protests have not disrupted extracurricular activities, such as clubs and sports teams.

Teachers stopped leading voluntary activities in September, after the Ontario Liberals introduced Bill 115, a controversial piece of legislation that later imposed the terms of the contracts. The government and teachers' unions were at an impasse in January, when Kathleen Wynne was chosen as the new Liberal Leader. Talks resumed soon afterward, and leaders of both public-school teacher unions recently directed their members to stop political protests.

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