Unions representing most Ontario teachers have rejected a proposal for binding arbitration to secure new contracts and prevent potential strikes. The government and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) announced a plan for arbitration if a negotiated contract agreement cannot be reached by October 27. However, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA), and the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontarien (AEFO) have stated that they cannot consider this option at present.
OECTA President René Jansen in de Wal highlighted that the proposed arbitration process for OSSTF would not work for them, as it would limit discussions on critical issues affecting their students and the quality of classrooms. ETFO President Karen Brown also expressed that an arbitrator may not be the most suitable party to address their concerns regarding violence in the classroom and hiring issues. Both unions have scheduled strike votes in the coming months to assess support for potential job actions and to increase pressure on the bargaining process.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce emphasized that the arbitration proposal still allows for meaningful discussions at the bargaining table until October 27. Lecce also noted that while some outstanding issues may not be resolved through negotiations, the introduction of an independent, third-party interest arbitration system can help find a resolution and ensure the continuation of classroom activities.
AEFO’s president indicated that the union is currently evaluating its options.