July 2012

Memo to Directors of Education and Secretary-Treasurers of School Authorities

July 25, 2012

As you are aware, on July 5, 2012, the government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ontario English Catholic Teacher's Association (OECTA). The government has been clear that boards must work within the fiscal parameters set in the 2012 Ontario Budget, and we believe that the OECTA MOU will serve as a roadmap for local bargaining.

With September quickly approaching, the government encourages you to pursue local bargaining so that agreements are in place before the first day of school in September. My office has received inquiries from boards about the process and timing. To help address your questions, I am providing the following Q&A.

Q. How does the conciliation process work under Section 18 of the Labour Relations Act?

A. Notice is served to bargain by either party, and the union and employer meet. Either party may make a request to the Ministry of Labour (MOL) for the appointment of a conciliator.

MOL then processes the request and allows for at least five business days for the other party to raise objections. Following this period, and once any objections are resolved, MOL appoints a conciliation officer.

The two parties do not have to agree to request a conciliator (the request can be made unilaterally). However, if the application is made jointly, the five day objection period is waived.

The conciliation officer has a statutory obligation to confer with the parties and try to effect a collective agreement. During or after the first conciliation meeting, either party can request a “No Board Report” from MOL (the request can be made unilaterally).

Q. How does the “No Board Report” process work?

A. As a practical matter, if one of the parties declines to participate in a scheduled conciliation meeting, the party that does participate can ask for a “No Board Report.” The two parties do not have to agree to request a “No Board Report.”  MOL normally grants requests for “No Board Reports.”

Once 17 days have passed after the “No Board Report” has been released (and provided the collective agreement has expired):

  • the union is in a legal strike position; and
  • the employer is in a legal lock-out position and can also unilaterally change terms and conditions of employment (subject to its general duty to continue to bargain in good faith).

Q. If boards want to meet the fiscal parameters outlined in the Grants for Student Needs (GSN), what are the deadlines that must be met?
A. Boards are encouraged to reach a collective agreement before September 1. If boards anticipate that this isn't possible, they may choose to begin the process which would allow boards to impose terms and conditions of employment. In order to meet this timeline boards would have to request conciliation on an urgent basis ‑ and no later than August 7. Also, a “No Board Report” would have to be issued by August 14.

Should you have any questions, please contact Jim Vair, Chief Education Labour Relations Officer
at 416 327-4071 jim.vair@ontario.ca or myself George.zegarac@ontario.ca.

Original signed by

George Zegarac
Deputy Minister