Liz Sandals remains committed to negotiated teachers settlement

Education Minister Liz Sandals says it's disappointing mediated talks with secondary school teachers failed to result in an agreement.

Province will take 'appropriate action' if school year is in jeopardy, Sandals said Sunday

Education Minister Liz Sandals is awaiting a decision from the Education Relations Committee on whether or not the school year is in jeopardy. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Education Minister Liz Sandals says it's disappointing mediated talks with secondary school teachers failed to result in an agreement, but she remains committed to reaching a negotiated settlement.

However, Sandals said in a statement Sunday that if she gets word from the Education Relations Commission that the school year is in jeopardy, the government will "take the appropriate action as quickly as possible."

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation said Saturday that two days of talks with a mediator failed to make any progress, and talks were at an impasse. 

Union president Paul Elliott accuses the government of continuing to demand concessions that he says would lead to inferior learning conditions for students.

The union plans to apply to the provincial labour ministry for conciliation -- the teachers must first use the government
third-party assistance to try to reach a contract before they can take provincewide strike action.

'Creative solutions'

Sandals says she remains committed to reaching a negotiated settlement the government can afford.

"We knew this round of negotiations was going to be difficult, but the best way to resolve difficult issues is to be ready to
bargain and actively engaged in the negotiation process," she said.

"All parties, including OSSTF, must be prepared to compromise and find creative solutions.

"Our priority is to ensure that students continue to achieve excellence in one of the best education systems in the world and
have the opportunity to complete their school year."

Teachers are on strike in Peel, Durham and the Sudbury-area Rainbow school districts that have left more than 70,000 thousand students out of class.

But the school boards and the teachers union have been fighting for weeks on whether those walkouts are legal and Ontario's labour board is set to rule this week on their legality.

This is the first round of negotiations under a new bargaining system the Liberal government introduced last year, separating the process into local and central talks.


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