re: Towards a sustainable education system, Mountain News, July 12.
The negotiated deal between the provincial government and the English Catholic Teachers' Association [OECTA] being heralded as a template for labour agreements with Ontario's other teachers' unions is in fact a set back for the collective bargaining process.
The so-called negotiated deal is in fact not a legally negotiated deal. The process that was used is called: Provincial Discussion Tables or PDT's. The PDT format involves provincial teacher unions, provincial trustee organizations and the government in informal discussions.
This process has no legislative status and no established legal procedures regarding negotiation procedures, conciliation, impasse, ratification procedures and arbitration.
Teacher unions have traditionally negotiated with their respective local employer [school boards] under the provisions of the Ontario Labour Relations Act.
The PDT process has no such legislative status. It should be noted that the Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association (OCSTA) was bypassed in the final PDT discussion.
This raises the issue as to whether the real employer of Catholic teachers is the provincial government.
The so-called deal between the government and OECTA will do nothing to ensure the sustainability of Ontario's publicly funded school system.
The Minister of Education in a letter to all school board Chairs and Directors of Education (May 17, 2012) stated: "In light of our shared fiscal reality, the Ministry of Education, like all other ministries, has had to find areas of significant savings.......Finding greater efficiencies in how we deliver education will help to address our fiscal targets. We have an opportunity to be creative and innovative as we work together to ensure that students needs are meet".
It's time to be creative and innovative. Ontario has reached the tipping point.
More people than ever before are realizing that not only is there no reason for publicly-funded separate schools to exist, there are compelling reasons for them not to.
Its time to consolidate the public and separate school systems.
With the existing infrastructure, staffing and student populations, it doesn't have to be a big deal. Leave everything as is (except for the Catholic identity and exclusivity), and let all evolve into full integration with the existing public system.
The cost savings would be significant, thereby ensuring a sustainable public education system.