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Province okays Upper Grand teacher deal

A tentative contract deal between the local public school board and its high school teachers has received a thumbs up from Education Minister Laurel Broten.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Broten said an initial review of the deals reached Saturday by the Upper Grand and York Region public boards indicates they are within the parameters of Bill 115, the education bill approved by the legislature in September.
“I am pleased to say that they are workable within the scope of the substantively identical test under the Putting Students First Act,” which is the name given to Bill 115, Broten said.
She congratulated the Upper Grand board and the local bargaining unit of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation for coming up with a workable agreement. The Upper Grand and York Region boards were the first in Ontario to broker a deal with their high school teachers.
Bill 115 gives the province the right to impose a deal if locally bargained contract agreements aren’t in line with the contents of the bill. The bill largely reflects a two-year deal reached in early July between the province and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, which includes a wage freeze, sick-pay cutbacks and other measures, including restrictions on teachers’ right to strike.
Upper Grand trustees will vote on the deal at their regular board meeting Tuesday. High school teachers represented by the OSSTF  will also need to vote on the deal before it’s sent to Broten for final approval.
The board’s high school teachers, who are in a legal strike position under Ontario’s Labour Relations Act, started work-to-rule strike actions on Nov. 12. They suspended their largely administrative strike actions on Nov. 19 after the tentative deal was reached.
The Upper Grand board will also vote Tuesday on tentative agreements reached this week with three other OSSTF bargaining units, whose members have also called off their work-to-rule actions. These other agreements have also been sent to Broten for review.
One of the new tentative deals is with the OSSTF unit that includes administrative support staff, secondary and elementary office coordinators, and information technology staff.
Another is with a group that includes child and youth counsellors, psychologists, speech-language pathologists and social workers.
The other is with a unit that represents educational assistants, early childhood educators and special program assistants.
The board said it is continuing to negotiate with other local bargaining units. A meeting with OSSTF union officials representing secondary school occasional teachers is scheduled for the end of the month.
The board also continues to meet with the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, representing elementary teachers and occasional elementary teachers, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents custodial and maintenance staff, a news release said.
Elementary teachers in public schools are not yet in a legal strike position, but have been urged by their union leadership to “take a pause” on performing voluntary activities, it said.

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