Nova Scotia

As Liberals back off teacher contract bill, their MLAs stay mum

Liberal MLAs were shepherded away from reporters Monday morning by party staffers as the government announced it would press pause on legislation to impose a contract on teachers.

Provincial government sets aside teacher contract legislation and reopens schools

The government announced Monday it is pressing pause on legislation to impose a contract on teachers. (Robert Short/CBC)

Government House leader Michel Samson deflected questions Monday morning about the public outcry over the province's decision to close schools.

Samson spoke with reporters to announce the government was pressing pause on legislation set to be tabled that would force a contract on Nova Scotia's 9,300 teachers.

Hours later, Education Minister Karen Casey said schools will reopen Tuesday after her department reached a consensus with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union over work-to-rule job action and the safety of students.

Party staffers at Province House shepherded Liberal MLAs away from reporters trying to ask their thoughts on the legislation.

Liberal MLA Bill Horne would only offer: "I don't like the way it's going."

Michel Samson speaks at Province House on Monday morning. (CBC)

When the House recessed in the morning, Liberal MLAs left without speaking to reporters. Tory Leader Jamie Baillie noted Premier Stephen McNeil wasn't among them.

"Obviously the government is in chaos, the government MLAs are freaking out and their leader is not even here to lead them in this effort," Baillie said.

NDP Leader Gary Burrill said the government has made a mistake and it's time for them to admit it.

On Saturday, Casey announced schools would be closed to students, citing safety concerns, until the contract legislation passed. Teachers were required to report to work.

Teachers announced last week they would begin work-to-rule job action Monday, following the latest breakdown in contract talks. 

The union has said teachers would only perform duties spelled out in the current collective agreement, which expired in July 2015, but that the first priority would be student safety. 

Union president Liette Doucet confirmed work-to-rule will begin Tuesday.

Casey would not say if the legislation would come on a later date. She said it serves as protection for the education system in the event strike action went beyond the Education Act.

CBC reporters live blogged the latest developments with the legislation: 

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