French School Boards reject province’s agreement with AEFO
TORONTO – The provincial associations representing Ontario’s eight Catholic and four public French school boards are disappointed in the deal reached by Ontario’s Ministry of Education and the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO).
The union left the bargaining table on August 1, then reached an agreement with the Government of Ontario. As a result, the employers (the school boards) were excluded from the negotiations even though the Association des conseils scolaires des écoles publiques de l’Ontario (ACÉPO) and the Association franco-ontarienne des conseils scolaires catholiques (AFOCSC) remained at the table, willing to sign a mutually agreeable contract that would take into account the province’s ability to pay and student success.
“We are appalled that the Minister of Education, Laurel Broten, decided to sign an agreement with the union without our approval,” said Ronald Marion, ACÉPO President. “The union excluded us from the negotiations even though we never left the table. We made a number of proposals in good faith, but the AEFO rejected most of them.”
According to the French school boards, the decision by the Ministry of Education and the union to negotiate an agreement without them is unprecedented. “Negotiations usually take place between the employer and the union. Excluding the employer is unacceptable as these decisions will have a significant impact on how schools operate and on student success ,” said Melinda Chartrand, AFOCSC President. The French school boards have filed an application with the Labour Relations Board citing the AEFO’s unfair labour practices.
The associations consider this to be a direct attack on the constitutional right of Francophones to manage their own schools. “This is undue interference on the part of the provincial government in the management of French schools and classrooms,” added Ms. Chartrand.
Student well-being is the top priority for French school board trustees. “We are accountable to families for the success and safety of the children they send to our schools. We cannot support an agreement that places financial considerations ahead of students’ well-being,” explained Ronald Marion.
The Association franco-ontarienne des conseils scolaires catholiques represents the province’s eight French Catholic school boards and the Association des conseils scolaires des écoles publiques de l’Ontario represents the province’s four French public school boards.