Premier Stephen McNeil is calling the legislature back in session on Monday to start imposing a contract on Nova Scotia's public school teachers.

The Nova Scotia Teachers Union and the province reached an impasse this week after teachers voted against the government's latest offer. It marks the third time union execs have endorsed a contract that teachers later voted down.

In a news release sent Saturday night, the premier wrote the dispute with teachers must end so "the lives of students and parents can return to normal."

'Considerable soul searching'

Since early December, the province's 9,300 public school teachers have been working-to-rule. It has meant teachers are only doing what's required of them in their contract, so things like field trips and extra help after school have been stopped.

While the job action has received support from many parents and students, others have criticized the impact it's had on students.

Liette Doucet

Teachers union president Liette Doucet said a legislated contract will only further erode trust between the teachers and the McNeil government. (Pat Callaghan/CBC)

The premier said that he has done "considerable soul searching" on the matter. He said he wants to table legislation that will "bring an end to this dispute as soon as possible."‚Äč

The provincial government has at its disposal legislation that would allow the government to impose the financial terms of a contract.

Union responds

In a news release Saturday night, the president of the teachers union, Liette Doucet, said the province's move to legislate a contract demonstrates "the McNeil government's well documented lack of respect for the collective rights of workers."

She said the legislated contract will "do nothing to improve the state of our schools and will only further erode the trust between teachers and this government."

Doucet said the union only learned about the government's plans through the press release that was issued.

An 'extreme action'

Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie said by recalling the legislature Monday, McNeil is admitting failure. Baillie said imposing a contract on teachers is an "extreme action."

"Premier McNeil has clearly given up on making our classrooms better," Baillie said in statement Saturday night.

NDP Leader Gary Burrill said McNeil has shown he's not willing to listen to the concerns of educators.

"Stephen McNeil has made it clear that he is willing to balance the budget at the cost of our children's education and the health and well-being of the people that teach them," he said in a statement.

The house is scheduled to meet at 8 p.m. Monday.