03/31/2013 06:11 EDT | Updated 05/31/2013 05:12 EDT

Ontario High School Teachers, OSSTF Reach Tentative Agreement With The Province


TORONTO - The union representing Ontario's public high school teachers has reached a tentative agreement with the province.

Education Minister Liz Sandals says in a statement that agreement has been reached on implementation of sick leave, maternity leave, retirement gratuity, unpaid days, and local bargaining.

Sandals says the details of the agreement will be shared with members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation over the coming days.

She says full details will be released once the union's approval process is complete, but until then a media blackout remains in place.

Sandals says the agreement in principle is consistent with the existing collective agreements, while reflecting the ministry's fiscal situation.

The union agreed in late February to "suspend political action" — code for its withdrawal of extracurricular activities — sparked by the Liberals' move to impose contracts that froze the wages of most teachers.

"I am pleased that through hard work and a collaborative approach, we have been able to address some concerns of OSSTF members, and that we have helped restore an important relationship with a valued partner," Sandals said.

Progressive Conservative education critic Lisa MacLeod is accusing the Liberal government of watering down the imposed wage freeze and giving OSSTF "more gratuities."

"The changes will be costly to the province which is in a massive deficit and already struggling to keep up with the increasing costs of frontline programs like full day kindergarten," MacLeod said Sunday night in a release.

MacLeod said it sends a message to other public sector unions that if they are unhappy with the province's fiscal parameters during or after negotiations they can count on the government to give into their demands.

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