Ontario Catholic teachers file for conciliation in contract talks

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Ontario's English Catholic teachers are asking for a conciliator to help their contract negotiations with the province.
    
The talks have been ongoing for almost 18 months, and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association says progress has been ``extremely slow.''
    
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation and the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario have reached deals with the government that settle certain issues and leave others to an arbitrator to decide.
    
In that process, an arbitrator takes submissions and makes a decisions that the parties agree to abide by, but a conciliator is a neutral third party that helps the two sides reach a deal.
    
OECTA president Rene Jansen in de Wal says Catholic teachers have been ``beyond patient, especially as other education affiliates reach tentative agreements,'' so they hope that with the help of a conciliator, progress can be made faster.
    
OECTA members earlier voted 97 per cent in favour of giving their union a strike mandate, and the president says filing for conciliation does not mean there will be any job action.