Toronto, December 18, 2008- Education Minister Kathleen Wynne has confirmed that the demands of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) far exceeded the funding provided in the Provincial Discussion Table agreement.
“The ETFO final proposal was not mutually agreed to by the parties and was not within the financial parameters established by the Ministry,” said Minister Wynne. “OPSBA did raise legitimate concerns about the financial implications created by ETFO’s final proposal. The only agreement that the Ministry would have endorsed was one that was mutually agreed upon by both parties and within the financial parameters established by the Ministry.”
“Claims have been made that ETFO’s final offer was costed and endorsed by the Ministry of Education,” said the Minister. “This is not the case.”
ETFO’s final offer would have cost at least $463 million more over 5 years than had already been agreed by the 3 other Provincial Teachers’ Unions. ETFO Executive has known the basic conditions of the PDT agreement for many months. In the final hour available to reach an agreement, ETFO made demands that went far beyond those agreed to by all other unions.
“ETFO came to the table with demands far in excess of the Ministry’s economic template,” said Rick Johnson, past president of OPSBA. “It was not an option but we would like to have seen elementary teachers get an opportunity to vote on the OPSBA offer.”
ETFO has now embarked on another misinformation campaign. Taking out full-page ads in daily newspapers, however, will not change the facts or alter the truth. ETFO’s “final offer” exceeded the funding provided by the Province by an estimated $273M over 4 years and, additionally, would have left Boards with an annual funding shortfall of approximately $190M in 2012-13 and future years.
Meeting ETFO’s demands would have required school boards to re-allocate money from already-stretched budgets where every penny is needed for students and classroom programs. It would have put many, if not all, Public Boards in a deficit situation. It would have created unfair differences in the provisions of contracts already agreed to by the 3 other Teachers’ unions, the Support Staff Unions and even support staff unions within ETFO itself.
ETFO’s offer to “forgo” a salary increase in the fourth year of the deal to pay for preparation time is a key example of misinformation. Far from reducing the overall salary demand by 3%, this offer called for a frontloading of increases early in the proposed four-year deal. The increases would then roll over to the later years of deal and the “savings” claimed by ETFO simply would not be there. Their members would not have been out of pocket by a penny. In fact, they would receive their money earlier than other unions. The offer in fact does nothing to pay for further preparation time demands which are radically out of line with the Ministry’s funding formula.
In good faith, OPSBA on behalf of Public School Boards, has successfully negotiated provincial agreements with all other employee groups, including secondary teachers. Our proposal was a good deal for elementary teachers.
The original Ministry Provincial Discussion Table (PDT) agreement was faithfully reflected in the OPSBA Proposal to ETFO. It included a three per cent annual salary increase for four years, compounding to 12.55 per cent by 2012, more teachers to improve class sizes, more teachers to improve student programs and more teachers to provide more planning time for existing teachers, PLUS improvements in benefits and other working conditions for English public elementary teachers. Those are the facts – no full-page advertisement required.
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