Talks between the province and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario have broken down after three days.
A mediator had called the two parties back to the table on Wednesday for their first bargaining session in more than a month.
The negotiations then continued for three full days, prompting a degree of optimism in some corners.
That optimism, as it turns out, was misplaced.
In a statement issued late Friday night Minister of Education Stephen Lecce confirmed that “the mediator has called off discussions for now,” though he said that “the government stands ready to meet at any time.”
Lecce noted that the government attempted to move negotiations forward by offering to put it in writing that they will keep full day kindergarten, which he said was one of the unions “publicly-stated priorities.”
He said that the government also “continued to signal reasonableness on issues from special education supports to efforts to counter violence in schools.”
ETFO President Sam Hammond, however, said in a statement that it became “increasingly clear” through the course of negotiations that the government “was not willing to address key issues in any meaningful way.”
“Our members have made it very clear that they are committed to protecting public education, and they expect to see a bargaining outcome at the central table that supports the learning needs of their students,” Hammond said.
“Agreeing to accept cuts to the funding that elementary students have had in previous years, and that they desperately need now, is not something that ETFO will consider.”
With the talks between the province and ETFO now on hold again, the union says that it will proceed with a one-day province-wide strike on Feb. 6 and a series of other rotating strikes, including one slated to hit the Toronto District School Board and the York Region District School Board on Feb. 7.