CUPE, Ontario government reach tentative deal; strike called off

CUPE, Ontario government reach tentative deal; strike called off
Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce attends Question Period at the Queen's Park Legislature, in Toronto, on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022.

A union representing 55,000 Ontario education workers says it has reached a tentative deal with the provincial government, averting a strike that had been planned for Monday.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees said earlier that both sides had already reached an agreement on wages even as the union kept pushing for certain staffing levels to be guaranteed.

But Laura Walton, the president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions, said there was “no new funding to guarantee that services will be provided in schools for students.”

“For that, to parents and families, all I can say is that I’m disappointed and so is the entire bargaining committee,” she wrote in a statement.

CUPE earlier said both sides had agreed to a $1-per-hour raise each year, or about 3.59 per cent annually.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the biggest beneficiaries of the tentative deal are Ontario students, who will not have to miss class due to a strike.

“All parties…leave this tentative agreement with positive outcomes for what we were trying to advance,” he said at a press conference. “I think all parties have been able to receive some incremental wins.”

The union had been looking for $100 million in guarantees of higher staffing levels for educational assistants, librarians, custodians and secretaries, as well as an early childhood educator in every kindergarten classroom and not just classes that have more than 16 students.

The looming strike would have come two weeks after CUPE’s last walkout, which shut many schools across the province for two days.

The job action ended after the government promised to repeal a law that imposed contracts on CUPE members, banned them from striking, and used the notwithstanding clause to allow the override of certain charter rights.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 20, 2022.

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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