P.E.I. Teachers' Federation walks out on negotiations
Federation says government 'engaged in bad faith bargaining'
The P.E.I. Teachers' Federation has walked out on negotiations with the province.
On Wednesday afternoon, the federation's president Gilles Arsenault accused the government of engaging in "bad faith bargaining."
Earlier this week, the province announced it was cutting 28 teaching positions at the English Language School Board, and a further 13 positions at the board and Department of Education levels.
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"We were in the middle of negotiations and we had presented an asking package to government as of April 20 and we had no response to the package," said Arsenault.
"And we had included in there, obviously, teaching positions, and in the middle of our negotiations we hear that government is cutting teaching positions."
He says the union had no choice but to walk away.
"The teachers and the teachers' federation is very unhappy with what's going on at the moment and decided to walk away from the negotiating table."
Teachers feel that government doesn't understand the needs in today's classroom and does not seem to care, he says.
The teacher cuts announced in last week's budget are not about declining enrolment, says Arsenault, who calls the cuts a "political decision to try and balance the budget on the backs of Island students and their families."
Teachers began negotiations with the province in March.
Their contract runs out the end of August.
Teachers in P.E.I. do not have the right to strike.
Meanwhile, in a statement released Wednesday night, the province calls the federation's decision to walk out on contract negotiations "unfortunate."
The statement said the government remains committed to "ongoing and open dialogue and is "hopeful discussions will resume."
The province also said it values teachers' contributions and that it is focused on "maximizing investments on the frontlines."
The province said 300 fewer students are expected to attend Island schools this fall and that 12 of 40 retirements will be replaced by new hires.