McGuinty asks unions to allow extracurricular activities
Published Friday, January 4, 2013 1:55PM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 4, 2013 5:14PM EST
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has asked union leaders to allow teachers to resume leading unpaid extracurricular activities in the province’s public schools, just one day after the government imposed contracts that froze wages.
McGuinty said he’s not been told by the unions whether extracurricular activities will resume, but wanted to personally reach out to them.
Extracurricular activities in the province’s public schools have been on hold so far this school year, as teachers protested Bill 115 and struggled to reach collective agreements with their boards and the province.
It’s not clear whether after school activities, clubs and sports will start up now that contracts have been imposed. However, some unions have indicated they likely won’t.
“They do it out of the goodness of their heart because they feel respected,” said Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation President Ken Coran of extracurricular activities. “I think it’s going to take a while, if ever, that some of those hard feelings can be remedied.”
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the OSSTF were furious after Education Minister Laurel Broten announced Thursday that she will impose two-year contracts on their 126,000 members under Bill 115.
The government said it would repeal the law before the end of the month, after McGuinty steps down as premier.
Meanwhile, a Toronto employment lawyer says it’s likely that the legislation can be challenged in court.
While going through the court system is a lengthy process, lawyer Ken Krupat said it’s the teachers’ best shot at fighting Bill 115.
The legislation gave the provincial Liberal government the power to force two-year agreements on elementary and high school teachers who failed to strike deals by a Dec. 31, 2012 deadline.
“Since 2007 when the Supreme Court enshrined constitutionally the right to collectively bargain, there is a real opportunity that the bill is going to viewed as draconian by the court,” Krupat told CTV News Channel on Friday. “Even though that will take some time, it may end up producing a retroactive remedy that may assist the teachers.”
Since Broten announced her intention to impose contracts, teachers’ unions have indicated that some kind of strike action is likely.
“Our members voted 93 per cent in favour of a day of political protest if this minister did what she did today,” Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario President Sam Hammod told reporters on Thursday.
However, Broten stressed that with contracts in place, any strike action would be considered illegal.