Hamilton's teachers are waiting to see if education minister Laurel Broten will impose a contract as the deadline to reach agreements looms.
The deadline for Ontario teachers to reach agreements with their local school boards is set to arrive at one minute before midnight on Monday. Chantal Mancini, president of the local high school teacher's union, said right now all they can do is wait.
"At this point, we will deal with it once it happens," she said. "She (Broten) has the power to impose a contract under Bill 115 and I can't change that. She's given herself that power."
Broten has not said whether she will move to impose contracts on Jan. 1 — only that she has the option to do it under Bill 115.
Over the past few months, teachers in Hamilton have been outspoken about their disapproval of Bill 115. They held a one-day strike earlier this month, cancelled extracurriculars and held a rally in opposition of the Bill. Mancini said Hamilton has been very supportive of the teachers.
"Even today we've been getting calls of support to the office. It's been great," she said, adding Hamilton teachers are feeling angry and frustrated with the Bill.
"It's been surreal to have a government take a law so restrictive and draconian and take away our democratic right. It's unbelievable. Even Harris didn't do that."
The legislation — which freezes the pay of most teachers, reduces their ability to bank sick days and takes away their right to strike — has drawn protests from teachers’ unions in the province. In Hamilton, the Catholic elementary and high school teachers ratified an agreement with their school board earlier this month, but the public sector teachers have yet to reach an agreement.
On Sunday, Broten announced a tentative deal with the Canadian Union of Public Employees which represents about 55,000 workers, including educational assistants, early childhood educators, instructors, custodians, librarians and secretaries.
She says 65 ratified local teacher agreements have been submitted so far and she's hoping others will follow.
CBC’s Jermaine Hylton reported Monday that there’s uncertainty about what will happen when students return after the Christmas break. After contracts are imposed, any strike action would be illegal.