Ontario raising wages of some elementary teachers

Province to eliminate 'salary differential' with teachers represented by ETFO

The Ontario government is eliminating a "salary differential" with teachers represented by the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO).

Teachers represented by ETFO  received lower pay increases than other unions, such as those teaching at French schools or in the Catholic boards.

The salary differential came about as a result of agreements negotiated back in 2008. All of the unions, with the exception of ETFO, signed four-year deals containing wage increases of three per cent per year, or 12 per cent over the life of the agreement.

ETFO balked at the offer of 12 per cent over four years in 2008 and were warned by the province that, if they didn’t take the deal, they`d have to take less. The union refused, and eventually had to settle for lower increases — two per cent in years one and two, and three per cent for years three or four, for a total of 10 per cent over the life of the agreement, two per cent less than teachers represented by unions who accepted the earlier offer.

In a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by the province and ETFO on June 12, 2013, the government agreed to "eliminate the differential in salary between EFTO and non-ETFO teachers."

ETFO teachers approved the deal, voting 91 per cent in favour of the agreement. Liz Sandals, Ontario’s Minister of Education, said she was pleased by the results of the vote, saying in a press release the province has “come a long way toward rebuilding our relationship in a collaborative approach” with the teachers.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, she said the affected teachers should not be punished because their union negotiated a poorer deal back in 2008.

“It’s not about did the unions have good tactics or bad tactics. It’s about the individual teacher,” she said. “Now, when we look at this, and we look at a public policy point of view going forward: Why would we pay Catholic and French teachers more than public teachers?”

Under the terms of the MOU, the salary differential will be eliminated on Sept. 1, 2014. Reports peg the cost of the eliminating the gap at about $112 million per year.

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