With Ontario schools officially shuttered until at least the start of May, education partners are ramping up plans to continue teaching students at home.

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Starving Ontario’s school boards of money will eventually lead to the loss of Catholic education, protesters told The Catholic Register during a rally at Queen’s Park.

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For those who doubt the value of a separate Catholic education system in Ontario, they need look no further than Ministry of Education numbers to see that Catholic schools outperform their public counterparts in producing high school graduates.

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TORONTO - The efforts of a few is bringing acknowledgement to all Catholic students as the province prepares to celebrate the first Ontario Catholic Student Youth Day on May 7.

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AURORA, ONT. - Trustees from the York Catholic District School Board agreed on Aug. 21 to accept the province's Memorandum of Understanding as a framework for local collective bargaining with their teachers' union.

The York board joins the Toronto Catholic board as the only ones to date to sign on to the province's plan to freeze teacher wages for two years, alter sick leave benefits and cut sick days, all part of the government's austerity measures to deal with a $15-billion budget deficit. In July, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association was the first of the education stakeholders to sign on to the deal.

"Adoption of the MOU will help provide labour stability and peace of mind," said board chair Elizabeth Crowe. "We have always worked in a spirit of collaboration with all our employee groups and we greatly value those relationships."

By approving the MOU it ensures there will be no labour disruption this year in York Catholic schools.

That looks like it may not be the case across the province. No other union has accepted the provincial deal and other school boards have voiced their concerns about collective bargaining being taken away from them. Premier Dalton McGuinty, however, has vowed to bring in legislation to prevent a labour disruption and has recalled MPPs from their summer break for a session beginning Aug. 27 to deal with the issue.

The York board, with 55,000 students and 103 schools, now has until Dec. 31 to sign contracts under the agreed upon guidelines.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA