The Ontario government has set Jan. 23 as the date for repealing Bill 115, the act that allowed it to impose contracts on tens of thousands of public school teachers.

Education Minister Laurel Broten on Jan. 3 announced that the government was forcing contracts on about 130,000 elementary and secondary teachers, using powers it gave itself when it passed Bill 115 last September.

At the same time as she announced the contracts, Broten said she would repeal the act once the contracts were in place. The imposed contacts will not run out until August 2014.

"By saying that she will repeal Bill 115 after using it to trample our collective bargaining rights and our collective agreements, the education minister has admitted that the legislation is deeply flawed," Sam Hammond, president of the Ontario Teachers Federation said.

The government now says the legislation protected the gains made in education and reflected the province's fiscal reality.

"By moving to repeal the act, the government is promoting goodwill and stability in Ontario's schools by addressing a key concern of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario and the Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers' Federation," the government said Monday in a news release.

"The new contracts will save the province $250 million in 2012-13, growing to $540 million in 2013-14. This is in addition to one-time savings of $1.1 billion, primarily from the elimination of banked sick days," the government news release said. The imposed contracts are similar to deals signed by Catholic and French-language teachers last year.

They include:

  • Freezing wages for most teachers.
  • Reducing the number of sick days.
  • Limiting the unclaimed sick days teachers can cash out when they retire.

Broten said the move to impose contracts, using the legislation, was needed to avoid pay increases the province can't afford as it struggles to pare back a $14-billion deficit.