Minister Thompson Calls on Teachers' Unions to Start Negotiations
TORONTO — Today, Lisa Thompson, Minister of Education, issued the following statement in response to the start of education sector labour negotiations:
"Our government took the unprecedented step this month of providing teachers' unions with an opportunity to start early good faith bargaining to allow labour negotiations to conclude in time to ensure our students will be in classes, where they belong, in September. The current education sector labour agreement negotiated by the previous government expires on August 31, 2019, which coincides with the start of the fall school year. We believe this is unacceptable. Our government will be considering changing the expiry date of future education sector labour agreements to a different time of year to minimize any disruption to students' ability to attend class.
We are pleased that the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) has taken up our invitation to start early good faith bargaining and we are calling on the remaining teachers' federations to follow their lead. We are extremely disappointed the remaining teachers' federations and education workers' unions have not responded to this opportunity. Beginning this process as early as possible is critical to protecting student achievement and the interests of Ontario families. Students need to be in class when school starts in September and parents need to be assured this will happen.
Those federations and unions who continue to delay the bargaining process are acting irresponsibly and causing unnecessary fear and anxiety for parents. They continue to prioritize their own agenda at the cost of student success and sow seeds of division and doubt.
Our government is committed to raising student test scores, addressing declining math scores and preparing students with the skills they need to enter the workforce. We have already taken steps to address a number of challenges our students face today. On March 15, 2019, our government shared its vision for education in Ontario, Education that Works for You. Our 2019-20 budget protects what matters most by increasing education funding by $700 million over last year.
We are improving students' math performance with our new $200 million four-year math strategy and we have added a $1.6 billion fund over the next four years specifically to ensure no teacher loses their job as a result of our proposed changes to class sizes or e-learning.
Those who are unwilling to join us at the bargaining table nonetheless remain outspoken about their disappointment in our vision for education. We remain focused on providing the best possible education system for our students and peace of mind for parents. Our government wants to work co-operatively with the unions to address the real issues with our education system and we are prepared to immediately begin bargaining in good faith."