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CUPE, Ontario settle on tentative deal 

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUBE) has reached a deal with the provincial government of Ontario to avoid a strike that was set to begin on Monday. Education Minister Stephen Lecce addressed the media on Sunday and said, “I am pleased to confirm that an agreement has been reached between the Crown, our government, CUPE and the school board trustee associations that keep kids in class.”

He said “All parties bargained in good faith late into the night and over the weekend to reach a deal that is fair and that is reasonable. I am pleased that students will be back in the class on Monday.” Without going into details of the deal, he called it “fair and reasonable”. He said the deal represented “incremental success” as contract talks with the major teachers unions continue.

President of the Ontario School Board Council of Unions, Laura Walton said she regretted the disruption the negotiations may have caused and that the process took longer than hoped, but said public support helped the parties reach a deal. She said, “Schools will be open tomorrow in Ontario,” adding full details of the agreement will not be released until members review it.

Addressing the press, Walton said the union was able to secure modest wage increases and maintain its existing sick leave plan. She said the removal of changes to sick leave from the bargaining process helped talks progress. “It allowed us to be laser focused on what we needed to achieve and so we were able to push back on that sick leave concession. It was critical for us to provide that to our members and I am proud that we were able to achieve that. We were also able to achieve modest wage increases.”

She added, “The province met us where they needed to be in order to get a deal.” Ontario Premier Doug Ford issued a brief statement after the tentative agreement was announced. He said the government “will continue to negotiate in good faith with all of our bargaining partners.” The statement read, “Throughout this process our goal has been to establish agreements that respect taxpayers, students and families, while also recognising the important contributions of our front-line education workers.”

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