School To Stay On Track And Without Disruptions
McGuinty Government To Introduce Legislation To Put Students and Families First
Ontario intends to introduce legislation that, if passed, would put students and families first by ensuring education funding stays in the classroom and the next two school years are free from labour disruptions.
The Putting Students First Act, if passed, would require that school boards and local bargaining units of teachers and support staff accept agreements consistent with the government's fiscal and policy priorities. These priorities include maintaining investments in full-day kindergarten, keeping class sizes small, and protecting funds earmarked for the classroom.
The Memorandum of Understanding between the government and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) is an example of such an agreement.
The legislation, if passed, would take effect Sept. 1 and therefore would also prevent automatic pay increases for teachers if current contracts roll over as scheduled on Aug. 31.
It would be required, under the proposed act, that any increases paid to teachers and staff before the legislation passes be paid back.
The proposed legislation, if passed, would save the province $250 million in 2012-13, growing to $540 million in 2013-14. In addition, the province would achieve one-time savings of $1.4 billion with the elimination of banked sick days. These savings would be found while continuing to support student achievement and protect full-day kindergarten, smaller class sizes, and 20,000 teaching and support staff jobs.Eliminating Ontario's deficit is the single most important step toward growing the economy, protecting and creating jobs, and preserving significant gains made in education. The McGuinty government remains committed to working with all of its partners in education to eliminate the deficit while continuing to protect the classroom experience.
- The government has already signed agreements with OECTA and the Association des Enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens, which together represent more than half of Ontario's school boards and 55,000 teachers.
- The government has also signed an agreement with the Association of Professional Student Services Personnel.
- The proposed legislation also covers employees who do not bargain collectively, including principals, vice-principals and school board staff.
- If existing contracts were to automatically roll over on Sept. 1, the cost of teachers moving up the grid and for continuing the existing retirement gratuity and sick leave provisions would be $473 million.
“Since February, when talks first began, we have been firm but fair; focused but flexible and unwavering in our commitment to reach labour agreements that protect the gains we have made in education. By introducing legislation, we are taking an important step toward giving certainty to students and families that school will start on time and uninterrupted.”