Concilliation Primer from ETFO

What is “conciliation”? 

At any point during negotiations, Ontario’s Labour Relations Act allows a union or an employer to request neutral third-party assistance to help resolve their differences. That request for assistance is called “conciliation”.

A request for conciliation is a common occurrence during collective bargaining.

After the request for conciliation is filed, a conciliation officer is appointed by the Minister of Labour to meet with the union and the employer in an attempt to conclude a collective agreement. 

To review the Labour Relations Actclick here:

What kinds of issues are causing the move to conciliation? 

Members attending information/strike vote meetings are being given detailed information about the bargaining issues that are causing ETFO significant concern.

After our final central strike vote meetings take place on October 30, 2019, ETFO will be issuing a Central Bargaining Bulletin to members summarizing those concerns. The bulletin will be sent to members through local communication channels.

What does a conciliation officer do? 

A conciliation officer is an impartial third party, appointed by the Minister of Labour, who has experience in mediation and alternative dispute resolution.

Conciliation officers confer with both the union and the employer, using their expertise to try to help both sides find mutually agreeable solutions to outstanding issues they might not have considered during bargaining.

Can the conciliation officer propose solutions?  Do you have to accept them? 

Conciliation officers have no authority to impose a settlement on the union and the employer. The conciliation officer can propose ideas, but the parties aren’t bound to accept them.

What happens if conciliation is successful? 

If conciliation is successful, a Teacher/Occasional Teacher and/or an Education Worker tentative central agreement will be reached and will be submitted to the appropriate section of the membership for ratification.

If a majority of members vote in favour of the tentative central agreement, it becomes their new central agreement.

What happens if conciliation fails? 

ETFO’s goal is to reach fair central agreements that support our members and public elementary education, so our hope is that conciliation will be successful.

ETFO is putting its total focus right now on this step – conciliation. We are hopeful a third party, like a conciliation officer with expertise in mediation, can kick-start some serious discussion that has stalled at the central tables and help us make some progress.

When will the meeting with the conciliation officer take place?

ETFO filed for conciliation on October 16, 2019, so we’re at the start of this process. ETFO would like to schedule the meeting as soon as possible and will advise members as soon as a date has been set.


Is filing for conciliation a move by ETFO toward strike action? 

It is an attempt at resolution. ETFO wants to take advantage of the bargaining assistance that’s offered under the Labour Relations Act.

ETFO’s hope is that a conciliation officer can help us with some major issues we’re having trouble resolving at our Teacher/Occasional Teacher Central Table and Education Worker Central Table.

What does conciliation mean for ETFO members? During conciliation, ETFO members engage in their professional responsibilities as they normally would.

How can I keep up with what’s happening during conciliation? 

There are many ways you can keep up-to-date with the most current bargaining-related events:

  • read ETFO’s Central Bargaining Bulletinsand Collective Bargaining eNewsletter;
  • attend local information/strike vote meetings;
  • check this website frequently; and
  • follow ETFO’s social media accounts.

If you’re not receiving emails, texts, calls and mail from ETFO, it may mean we don’t have your most recent contact information on file. To ensure that ETFO has your home address, email address(es) and telephone number(s) on file, contact ETFO Member Records at


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