Strong Strike Vote Mandate Needed to Protect Publicly Funded Education
In this PBU:

  • OSSTF’s Agreement with the Government that May Result in Binding Arbitration
  • Key Issues at the Bargaining Table
  • Upcoming Strike Vote Rallies
  • Stay Informed!

OSSTF’s Agreement with the Government that May Result in Binding Arbitration

On Friday, August 25, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF/FEESO) announced an agreement that may result in OSSTF entering into binding arbitration with the Government of Ontario, should a collective agreement on central terms not be reached by October 27. The agreement is still subject to a ratification vote by OSSTF members.

The Association respects the right for unions to make decisions in the interest of its membership. However, at this time, entering into binding arbitration is not something that our Association can consider at our bargaining table. Entering into binding arbitration at this juncture would not serve Catholic teachers in elementary and secondary schools across Ontario. Past evidence shows that binding arbitration would all but guarantee that the key issues that the Association has brought forward at the bargaining table, which are critical to learning and working conditions in our schools, would not be addressed.

A decision to enter into binding arbitration would also impact the opportunity for meaningful local bargaining,
diminishing our local units’ ability to address those issues that are specific to their school boards and local

Strike Vote FAQs

For additional information, and answers to some frequently asked questions about this, and other strike vote and bargaining-related issues, please review the Association’s Strike Vote FAQs.

Key Issues at the Bargaining Table

On October 18 and 19, the Association will be asking all active OECTA members to vote in favour of a strike mandate.

Since bargaining began almost 15 months ago, your Provincial Bargaining Team (PBT) has been focused on realizing a fair, negotiated agreement that protects your working conditions and your rights, supports the
students you serve, provides fair compensation that accounts for the rising cost of living, and ensures that funding for benefits is sufficient, so that coverage is not eroded as a result of inflation. What the government is proposing would represent massive strips to your collective agreement – strips that would diminish your hard-won rights, erode your professional judgement, and gut provisions that contribute to your livelihood.

This is why the Association is calling on all Catholic teachers to deliver an overwhelming strike mandate – to send a clear message to the Ford Conservative government that we will NOT sit idly by while they attempt to
undermine your working conditions and trample on your rights, and underfund education.

Below are just a few of the key issues the PBT is fighting for at the bargaining table. More issues and information
will be provided in future Provincial Bargaining Updates.

Issue 1: Protecting Your Benefits Plan

The OECTA Benefits Plan helps ensure the health and well-being of Catholic teachers and your families. The
Association is asking that the government adequately fund the plan to ensure its long-term sustainability, and
protect coverage levels against the impact of inflation.

Thus far, the government’s position is to refuse to properly fund the plan, and they have proposed no increase in
funding to the plan over the life of a potential four-year agreement. If this were to happen, it would jeopardize
the sustainability of the OECTA Employee Life and Health Trust (ELHT), likely forcing a reduction in benefits
coverage, potentially requiring members to pay out of pocket for a portion of their coverage, and, ultimately,
limiting the plan’s ability to meet the needs of Catholic teachers.

Issue 2: Protecting Preparation and Planning Time

For decades, teachers in elementary and secondary schools have been able to rely on daily preparation and
planning time, which has been critical in allowing teachers to best support student learning. However, the
government and Catholic school boards are now looking to end this practice for many. In fact, the government and Catholic school boards have indicated that, despite collective agreement language, they are seeking “flexibility” to introduce new models without the Association’s agreement, in the same way that they did during the pandemic – the consequences of which would be that the decades-old practice that elementary and secondary school teachers receive daily preparation and planning time would cease to exist.

Issue 3: Protecting Your Use of Professional Judgement

Catholic teachers are certified professionals, with expertise and experience in writing and delivering curriculum,
managing classrooms, and evaluating student progress. This is the cornerstone of our professional judgement. It
is enshrined in the central terms of our collective agreement – and it is under attack by this government.

In recent years, an increasing number of school boards have steadily and deliberately attempted to erode your
professional judgement by intruding into teachers’ classroom routines with greater frequency – demanding the
use of specific evaluation tools and techniques, demanding when and how teachers must communicate with
students and parents outside of the instructional day, and demanding that lesson plans and long-range plans are written using a pre-determined template.

The Ford Conservative government has mandated that teachers, from Kindergarten to Grade 12, perform
diagnostic assessments/screeners, whenever required by school boards. In addition, the government has used the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) Right to Read inquiry report to attempt to gut professional judgement – cherry-picking certain recommendations that would require teachers to conduct diagnostic testing, while ignoring recommendations that called for providing supports and resources and hiring additional, dedicated staff to conduct the assessments.

Despite this matter being discussed at the central bargaining table, the government announced Program/Policy
Memorandum (PPM) 168, attempting to unilaterally implement a diagnostic Early Reading Screening Tool,
thereby circumventing the collective bargaining process. The government was planning to force teachers from
Kindergarten to Grade 2 to deliver this screening to each and every student in their class, twice a year, without
providing additional time or the necessary resources. This would be a significant increase to the workload of
these teachers and would diminish professional judgement.

In response, the Association filed a complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board, asserting that the
government’s actions circumvented the bargaining process and violated your collective agreement.
While we were able to reach a settlement with the government that ensured that the Early Reading Screening
Tool would no longer be mandatory for the 2023-24 school year, its future use now returns to the bargaining
table for discussion.

The government has stated its intention to implement diagnostic tools that increase your workload and restrict
your professional judgement, and expand their use across all elementary and secondary classrooms.

Upcoming Strike Vote Rallies

Starting in September, local units will be hosting strike vote rallies across the province, leading up to our all-member strike vote on October 18 and 19.

Due to the sensitive and confidential nature of the negotiations, specific details of bargaining issues cannot be discussed publicly, so a rally is held to provide more context to members regarding the issues the PBT is facing at the bargaining table.

It is crucial that you attend the strike vote rally in your area – this is where you will receive further confidential details about the issues at the table, have an opportunity to ask questions of the Provincial Executive and PBT, and learn more about what the Association is aiming to accomplish with a strike vote.

Stay tuned for more information from Provincial Office and your local unit about strike vote rallies in your
community. Addition information on strike vote rallies can be found in the Association’s Strike Vote FAQs.

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