McGuinty urges teachers to sign new contracts
The Canadian Press
Posted: Aug 7, 2012 12:58 PM ET
Last Updated: Aug 7, 2012 3:34 PM ET
Premier Dalton McGuinty is urging Ontario teachers to agree to new contracts before the new school year begins, while warning that he'll do it for them if they refuse.
McGuinty said he's confident teachers will return in September because they know the cash-strapped government can't afford to give them more money.
"I am very, very confident that the overwhelming majority of teachers understand our financial circumstances," he said Tuesday while visiting a school in Sault Ste Marie.
"They know we are the same government, they know this premier remains absolutely committed to publically funded education — it's my single greatest priority. That hasn't changed. What has changed is our financial circumstances and we need to be responsible given those changes."
But McGuinty also repeated his warning that he'd recall the legislature this month to impose new contracts if teachers and school boards can't reach local agreements that freeze wages for two years.
Some teachers have already scheduled strike votes for next month after failing to negotiate new contracts.
The old contracts will automatically roll over Sept. 1, giving teachers raises that the province's can't afford because it's facing a $15-billion deficit this year, McGuinty said.
Legislation is "always a last resort" and the best option is to negotiate agreements together, he said.
"That's what we've been able to do during the days when the wind was at our back," he said.
"Today the wind is in our face right across the global economy, so we've got to lean into it and push forward."
The governing Liberals want school boards to model any deals on their agreement with English Catholic teachers. But the Conservatives say that would give 40 per cent of teachers a raise and that McGuinty should have legislated a wage freeze for all broader public sector workers months ago.
The province's agreement with the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association — covering 43,000 teachers at 29 boards — allows 35-40 per cent of teachers to get pay hikes by moving up the salary grid that rewards experience and qualification upgrades.
That deal also mandates three unpaid days off in the second year — which the government says amounts to a 1.5-per-cent pay cut for two-thirds of teachers -- and stops teachers from banking up to 20 sick days a year and cashing them out on retirement.
But four other unions representing teachers and support workers in elementary, secondary and francophone schools say they won't accept the same deal.
The school boards complain the threat of legislation isn't going to help resolve complex issues, and point out the province was able to reach only one major contract after five months of negotiations.
Latest Ottawa News Headlines
- Canada Post tells residents that junk mail is useful
- Some Ottawa residents received letters from Canada Post asking them to consider accepting flyers and coupons. more »
- Senators top line reunited for Game 5 against Penguins
- The Ottawa Senators have done the unthinkable all season long and they will try to continue overcoming adversity tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Dan Séguin previews Game 5 in Pittsburgh with the Sens down 3-1 in the series. more »
- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford denies using crack cocaine
- The mayor of Canada's largest city told a packed news conference that he doesn't use crack cocaine and isn't a crack addict. more »
- Ottawa Race Weekend road closures
- There are several temporary road closures in the city during Ottawa Race Weekend. more »
Top News Headlines
- Washington police blame bridge collapse on Alberta trucker
- Washington State police say an Alberta trucker was responsible for hitting a steel beam precipitating a bridge collapse on one of the busiest routes in the American northwest. more »
- Royal Bank pledges not to outsource jobs for cash savings
- Royal Bank has promised it will never outsource a Canadian job to a foreign worker solely to save money. more »
- Canada ranks 3rd last in paid vacations
- Canada ranks third last among economically advanced countries in the amount of paid vacation time it guarantees its workers, a new U.S. study indicates. more »
- Group calls for probe of Tory database used in election robocalls
- The Council of Canadians is calling on the Conservative Party to make a list of everyone who had access to its electoral database during the last federal election and turn the information over to the RCMP and the commissioner of elections. "Anything less at this point would be a coverup," the council said in a press release Friday. more »
- Train travel back to normal after fatal crash in eastern Ontario
- Orleans man dies from stabbing injuries
- Hutt changed story, said he burned wife accidentally
- The Ottawa Senators love their dogs
- Ottawa Race Weekend running tips
- Reopen casino debate, Ottawa councillor urges
- Fire destroys 100-year-old barn near Kemptville, Ont.
- Mike Duffy says he wants to give Canadians 'the whole story'
- Woman pleads for help after daughter kidnapped in Haiti