Dec 19, 2012
By Jane Brown
Ontario’s Education Minister is not budging on Bill 115, as a showdown with public school teachers unions shapes up for the new year. Laurel Broten says an opportunity for local negotiations to take place will continue until December 31st. After that, she says, the tools in the legislation will be used by the government. “We will defend the challenge that has been advanced by the unions on Putting Students First Act, which is a bill that allows the government to say what we can afford to pay. We can’t afford a teachers’ pay increase at this point in time. When we could, we did pay them. But we can’t at this point in time. We will defend the litigation in court.”
Bill 115 freezes teachers salaries for two years, reduces benefits, and gives the government the authority to legislate a contract for teachers and the power to end strikes and lockouts at schools. Elementary Teachers Federation President Sam Hammond says this fight is not about money, it’s about Bill 115, “and the interference in the collective bargaining process and the interference in our democratic rights in this country and that’s happened every day since last Monday and will continue.” Hammond says if the government imposes a contract on teachers, a one day political protest will be held in the new year, and possibly on a school day. Eight school boards, including Toronto’s, were hit by a one day strike on Tuesday. Today, 4800 teachers in Halton, Sault Ste. Marie and the Bruce Peninsula are off the job to protest against Bill 115.