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Education minister Liz Sandals upbeat about negotiations with teachers

With contract talks for two large teachers unions in this province getting back on track, the education minister is hinting that a deal may not be far off.

Province, unions closer to deal, says education minister

With contract talks for two large teachers unions in this province getting back on track, the education minister is hinting that a deal may not be far off.

Education Minister Liz Sandals told reporters at Queen's Park Wednesday afternoon that there has been significant progress with at least one of the unions.

"We've done a lot of ground work with some of these unions already, so that we know we're not a long way apart," she said. "Yes, it's hard work to get that final bit of gap closed, but we know that because of the work that we've done, we're not long distances apart." 

Sandals refused to say which union she is referring to.

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association is back at the bargaining table today and tomorrow. And talks with the secondary teachers federation are scheduled to resume next week, Aug. 18-19.

There are no negotiations scheduled with the Elementary Teachers Federation, although Sandals said there have been conversations about getting back to the table.

Ann Hawkins, the president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association (OECTA), has a more negative tone but also said she is optimistic.

"We're disappointed and frustrated with how long it has taken, we've been a full year without a contract. We're really hopeful that we'll manage to avoid any disruptions."

The union will be in a legal strike position on Monday but Hawkins said teachers in her union will be at work when the school year starts.

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