By Jordan Merkley
Elementary teachers in Ontario accepted a new deal with the provincial government following months of labour disputes regarding Bill 115.
The purpose of bill 115 was to save approximately $2 billion in compensation to teachers. However, by implementing this act without proper input, it caused retaliation according to teachers.
Last year, elementary schools across Ontario staged a series of one day strikes. Extracurricular activities were halted, affecting staff, students and families.
Ninety-one percent of members in the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario voted to accept the new Memorandum of Understanding with the Ontario government.
“It is evident from the result that our members agreed with the federation that this is the best possible contract achievable,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond in a press release.
Union locals are now working with their school boards to add the memorandum to their collective agreements.
Karen Fisk, the representative for Hasting and Prince Edward County District School Board, is pleased with this new agreement. About 700 contract teachers from all public elementary schools in this school board are affected by the contract.
“We feel this is the best possible contract that we could have within the political and economic milieu,” said Fisk. “The MOU will override and give some improvements to Bill 115.”
“Two task forces which will focus on workload and health and safety issues. That’s a real advantage to this as well,” said Fisk.
This agreement will create a safer and more successful learning environment for students and teachers according to Hammond.
The wage freeze put in place by Bill 115 will also be lifted when this agreement takes effect. “The elimination of the 2% salary penalty that takes effect after the collective agreement ends is definitely an advantage for our members,” said Fisk.