Support Staff Deal Reached But Teachers Talks Continue

SchoolGeneric

There's relief for parents across Ontario this week, after word on Sunday night that a tentative deal had been reached to avoid a strike by 55,000 education workers.

Renfrew County's schools were going to stay open on Monday anyway, but plans for the future were uncertain if a strike went ahead.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce was the first to announce the deal just after 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, and says it's a weight off everyone's shoulders to know that the parties involved were able to find common ground.

He says the interests of Ontario's 2 million students were at the heart of everything that both sides discussed and he feels for the parents who had an anxious wait throughout the process.

"The angst parents felt, I think, you know, really concerned me", Lecce said.

"I don't want them in this position at all ... and I'm just happy that we're able to provide some predictability, albeit at 9 o'clock tonight, provide them with some certainty that they deserve.

The union says it was able to secure modest wage hikes and maintain its sick-leave plan, but won't say more until members vote on the deal.

CUPE spokesperson Laura Walton says the deal is good for all involved, and she echoed the message to parents.

"I would like to apologize for how long it has taken to be able to give you this news.  Believe me, this process has taken longer than I had hoped it would.  I do regret the disruption it has caused to your lives", Walton said.

Some Renfrew County Teachers Hold Strike Vote 

Meanwhile, Renfrew County members of the Elementary Teachers Federation Of Ontario are holding a meeting and a central strike vote today.

The union says its goal is to reach an agreement without having a strike, but this vote today is just one part of the legal bargaining process.

Elementary teachers, occasional teachers, early childhood educators, educational support personnel and professional support personnel from four Renfrew County locals are involved in today's discussion and vote.  

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said last night he believes there is a ``path forward'' in the ongoing negotiations with Ontario's high school and elementary teachers, and that lessons learned from the support staff talks can be applied to other talks as well.