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Deal reached, education workers' strike averted in Ontario

A strike by 55,000 education workers in Ontario has been averted. A deal was reached late Sunday, just hours before picket lines were set to go up.

Parents across Ontario are relieved. Many of them had been scrambling over the weekend to find alternate care for their children after school boards said schools would be closed if there was a strike.

Ontario’s education minister Stephen Lecce put a positive spin on the tentative deal.

“If we put students first, if we make them the very center of our focus in these negotiations, the government in conjunction with our union partners and trustees can land deals. And the mission for us was to keep kids in the class,” Lecce said.

To get a deal at the last minute, after weeks of talks, the government put tens of millions of dollars on the table that will restore as many as 1,500 jobs which had already been cut from the education system.

The union, The Canadian Union of Public Employees, said it made no concessions and was able to keep one of the most contentious issues behind the contract dispute—its sick leave plan.

“Thanks for opening the piggy bank and allowing us to get the services that we needed for our students.  They’ll thank you too," said CUPE's Sarah Walton, thanking the minister of eduction.

The 55,000 education workers include custodians, early childhood educations and clerical staff. They must still rafity the proposed deal. Voting will take place at the end of the month.

Next the province must also reach deals with the unions representing high school and elementary teachers across the province.

WBFO’s comprehensive news coverage extends into Southern Ontario and Dan Karpenchuk is the station’s voice from the north. The award-winning reporter covers binational issues, including economic trends, the environment, tourism and transportation.