Newspaper article The Canadian Press

High School Teachers Get Better Benefits, Fewer Unpaid Days under New Deal

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

High School Teachers Get Better Benefits, Fewer Unpaid Days under New Deal

Article excerpt

Teachers get better deal with government


TORONTO - The union representing public high school teacher shouldn't be rewarded with a sweetened contract after putting students and parents through the wringer for eight months with no extracurricular activities, the Progressive Conservatives said Friday.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation is now getting changes to the current contract that will end up costing more when the province is facing a $12-billion deficit, said Tory critic Lisa MacLeod.

"Our kids in Ontario have just gone through the roughest eight months in some of their young lives at their schools, and (Premier) Kathleen Wynne allows the unions to have a do-over," she said.

"Both these unions -- ETFO and OSSTF -- all they had to do a year ago was actually sit at the bargaining table and respect the financial parameters the province is in."

Under a new tentative agreement reached with the governing Liberals, teachers will get improved maternity leave and sick day benefits, as well as fewer unpaid days off.

The proposed changes to the current contract imposed by the government in January would reduce unpaid days from three to one for teachers.

Support staff won't have to take any and can't be laid off unless enrolment is declining, the government cuts funding for a specific program, or "catastrophic events," according to a union document.

The unpaid days were supposed to be taken so that younger teachers could still move up the salary grid, which gives raises based on experience and qualifications.

The government has now agreed not to make any changes to the salary grid, which was supposed to be reviewed.

More union members would be eligible for the improved maternity leave and sick leave benefits under the deal, and younger teachers will be given a much better payout for their banked sick days as well.

Cashing out banked sick days at retirement was a big bone of contention between teachers' unions and the government last year, with the Liberals warning that it was a $1.4 billion liability on the province's books.

Under the current contracts, teachers can no longer bank sick days, but those banked before last September can still be cashed out at retirement. …

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