Alberta’s education minister is hinting that a legislated settlement might come soon if the province and teachers can’t agree on a way to end the current contract dispute.
"I think, we've always said that would be a last resort, but I think we're getting close to the point where those decisions are going to have to be carefully considered," Jeff Johnson said Tuesday.
Teachers have been without a contract since August, and negotiations between the Alberta Teachers Association and the province have been rocky at times.
In late February, the ATA rejected an offer from Johnson, calling it "unacceptable."
Teachers also criticized Johnson earlier this month after he sent a letter to local school boards, saying the government won’t pay for anything more than a three-year wage freeze with teachers, and a salary increases of no more than two per cent in the fourth year.
The ATA accused Johnson of interfering with local negotiations.
Despite the tense talks, Johnson said that lines of communication remain open and that he hopes a negotiated deal can be reached instead of an imposed settlement.
"I'm always hopeful, we've always said that a province-wide long-term deal would be in the best interests of the kid first, but everybody. We've never given up hope on that, we've never stopped working on that."
Teachers says the main sticking points in the the negotiations aren’t about money, but rather over issues like class sizes and workload.