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Ontario Government Asks Unions To Extend Education Contracts

The Ontario Government has offered contract extensions to most of the key education unions, in order to achieve labour peace during the next election.

Extensions would likely mean providing additional wage increases and altering terms to ensure most public, Catholic and French elementary and secondary teachers and education workers do not strike before a vote expected in June 2018. The government may have to amend the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act, 2014 (the “Act”) to extend the term of the contracts.

All collective agreements with teachers and other education workers in the province will expire on August 31, 2017.

An internal memorandum which was sent to the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (“OSSTF”) on September 30, 2016 indicated that the union had received the request and was considering it. Local representatives of OSSTF approved a resolution to commence internal discussions on extending the current collective agreement.

It is not clear what the length of the extension would be. A one-year extension would give the Liberal Government labour peace during an election, which is expected to be held in the spring of 2018.

During the last week of September 2016, Premier Kathleen Wynne said that the Government was prepared to loosen provincial purse strings for the next round of negotiations with public-sector unions.

The Premier confirmed that the Government will provide more funds in an attempt to reach settlements in the next round of bargaining by lifting the requirement that new deals be net zero.

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