All of Ontario's teachers now have a new, two-year contract after Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten, as expected, used her powers under controversial Bill 115 to impose a deal on them.
In a somewhat surprising move, Broten also said in a news conference this morning that the Putting Students First Act, which she described as a “lightning rod,” will be repealed.
“The Putting Students First Act was introduced and passed by a majority of the House to ensure that we could maintain the progress we've made in our schools and minimize labour disruption during the extended negotiation period,” she said. “The Putting Students First Act has now accomplished this goal. Therefore, following the ratification period for CUPE and before the end of the month, I will move to repeal the Act.”
All new contracts are retroactive to Sept. 1, 2012 and will expire on Aug. 31, 2014.
All 65 locally negotiated and ratified agreements submitted by school boards prior to the Dec. 31, 2012 deadline set out in the Putting Students First Act have been approved and the Canadian Union of Public Employees has been given until Jan. 14 to ratify 110 local agreements.
Those school boards and unions which were unable or refused to deliver agreements by the Dec. 31 have had contracts imposed upon them. These contracts are based upon the negotiated agreements or signed memoranda of understanding earlier this year between the province, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) and the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO).
With the full weight of Bill 115 brought to bear and where 2012-14 collective agreements are in place, “Any strike actions taken during this period will be illegal,” Broten said.
The province has said the terms of the new contracts will save Ontario $250 million in 2012-13 and $540 million in 2013-14.
The elimination of the contract provision that allowed teachers to cash out banked sick days will provide a one-time saving of $1.1 billion.
Contract negotiations with unions representing teachers and support staff have been ongoing since Feb. 2012. Through that process, 55,000 teachers, 4,000 support staff and 55,000 CUPE educational workers have negotiated agreements that meet the government’s fiscal goals while supporting student achievement.