Mediated discussions between ETFO, school board associations and the Ford government, which had resumed on January 29, broke down late Friday, January 31, 2020.

“ETFO made every effort over the past three days to move negotiations forward but it became increasingly clear that the Ford government was not willing to address key issues in any meaningful way,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond. “For example, the government wants to reduce funding to support the learning needs of special education students, and it wants ETFO to agree to those cuts at the bargaining table. We can’t do that.”

“The government is unwilling to make any significant efforts to address the problem of classroom violence, or to support the integration of students with diverse learning needs,” continued Hammond.

School boards and the government are also trying to gut a long-standing fair, transparent and equitable teacher hiring process established under Regulation 274/12.

“The government’s own study has shown that the fairness Regulation 274 brings to the teacher hiring process is consistent with diversity objectives in employment,” pointed out Hammond. “ETFO is concerned this move, which is an attempt to reintroduce teacher hiring based on nepotism and favoritism, will destroy the principles of diversity and equity in hiring.”

ETFO will escalate its rotating strikes across the province beginning Monday, February 3.

“Our members have made it very clear that they are committed to protecting public education, and they expect to see a bargaining outcome at the central table that supports the learning needs of their students,” noted Hammond. “Agreeing to accept cuts to the funding that elementary students have had in previous years, and that they desperately need now, is not something that ETFO will consider.”

“The Minister claims that he is there for students,” stated Hammond. “If that’s the case, then he should have no issue instructing his bargaining team to make investments in the priority funding and special education funding currently on the table.”