When children go back to school in Ontario it will not be business as usual, said Sam Hammond, Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario president this morning, after Education Minister Laurel Broten imposed contracts using Bill 115 on teachers Thursda
"We will not stand on the sidelines when our democratic rights are attacked," Hammond warned during a press conference.
“The government has used a hammer to dictate terms of a contract; a hammer that was put in place as early as last February,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond in a press release. “Ten years of goodwill has been squandered in ten months by this education minister.”
“By saying that she will repeal Bill 115 after using it to trample our rights, the education minister has admitted that the legislation is deeply flawed. Minister Broten will not erase the stain of Bill 115 simply by removing it after it is used. Ontarians will realize that democracy is not being well served by these actions.”
Bill 115 has been big news in Ontario as teachers have been fighting against the government over contracts this year. Hours have been spent at negotiation tables trying to strike a balance that
During December primary school teachers took a day off to picket in rolling strikes around the province. Students were denied activities after school as teachers pledged to only teach and not give extra hours.
As of today Education Minister Laurel Broten has imposed contracts on public teachers in Ontario while freezing wages. The one-day strikes that took place in December will not be allowed. Teachers now have less sick days a year and there are limits to the number of sick days that can be banked for retirement.
Broten said during a press conference that the recession made her decide between protecting students and paying teachers more. She said that she had no choice but to impose the contracts on teachers that will continue until August 2014. Strikes will not be allowed until 2014. Broten said that Ontario plans to repeal Bill 115 by the end of the month. According to Broten the measures that have taken place will save Ontario $2 billion over the next two years.
On Wednesday Premier Dalton McGuinty released an open letter to teachers and education support workers in Ontario. In the letter he said that the province is focusing on the classroom and programs for students. He outlined what the immediate future will be for teachers including retirement and maternity plans.
"Today, Ontario teachers are among the highest paid in North America and have better working conditions. And you are worth every single penny. Our test scores are way up. So are high school graduation rates. And that means many more young Ontarians are going on to postsecondary education than ever before -- which is vital in a global economy that is more competitive than it has ever been. And now, because of the steps we're taking together, we're going to see education funding on a sustainable footing to support strong public education in the future."
For 55,000 teachers in Ontario the measures will colour how the year will ride out. Some of the teacher unions had already come to an agreement others including the ETFO and the OSSTF had not. It remains unclear if student will be able to take part in extracurricular activities or if teachers will break the law with illegal strikes.
School in Ontario will resume on Monday, January 7.