By Stephen Lecce
Since the beginning of collective bargaining with our education union partners and the trustees’ associations, I have remained committed to getting deals that provide certainty and predictability for students, parents, and educators alike.
Our recent tentative agreement with CUPE shows that we are willing to be reasonable and flexible at the bargaining table in order to secure a deal that protects our students’ futures, invests in their potential and ensures they remain in the classroom. I know that this was welcome news for families, students and workers alike, as schools remained open across our province.
However, I know that significant pressure and uncertainty is placed on parents and students when every few years there is increased rhetoric and threats of strikes as part of the bargaining process.
I believe this needless pressure on families is counterproductive to the shared mission of the Government and parents to keeping students in a safe and positive learning environment.
Along with our initial success, there are still more steps to come. There are eight more unions yet to sign a deal.
During these negotiations, the Government stands with parents who want to keep their kids in the classroom and shares their concerns about the pressure and uncertainty placed on their families.
That is why we are working hard to keep our bargaining partners at the table. As we have demonstrated through our tentative deal with CUPE, we will continue to be a productive force at the bargaining table.
That is why I have told my negotiators to enhance our offer, to give them more flexibility, so we can get a deal as soon as possible.
Our investments in public education ensures students have the tools and resources they need to succeed, including the largest investment ever in public education in Ontario’s history, doubling investment in mental health supports for students in the classroom, an emphasis on STEM and the skilled trades – and encouraging girls to enter these professions, and a focus on the basics, with a revised math curriculum
I will continue to fight for Ontario’s students at the bargaining table, to keep them in the classroom.
Our children deserve no less.
Hon. Stephen Lecce is Ontario’s Minister of Education.