Summer is still in full swing, but the labour situation at Ontario’s schools continue to simmer in the background.
In just over a month, an uncertain September awaits more than two million students across the province. The three largest teacher’s union in the land - the Catholic, public elementary and secondary - have all stepped away from negotiations with the province, as well as local school boards, and are showing no signs of coming back anytime soon.
The clock is ticking, but there does not seem to be the sense of urgency one would expect from this situtaion as days tick by with the sides no closer to resolving anything, and little news emerging save for more job action plans from teachers.
Those responsible for reaching a deal appear to be wasting precious time, and it becomes clearer by the day that Ontario is likely to see even more of the job action that disrupted secondary schools for weeks in Durham this spring, when teachers went on strike, only to be ordered back by the province. Since that temporary solution, nothing has been done on either side to avoid a repeat, and it seems like a forgone conclusion.
By allowing the teachers to be without a contract for more than a year as they look to finally get a grip on their decade-plus spending spree, the Liberal government has lead Ontario’s public schools to return to the dark days of the Mike Harris administration 15 years ago. High school teachers recently taking away extracurricular activities, and elementary teachers withdrawing from administrative duties, including not booking field trips for next year.
Ontario students deserve better, even if it means cutting vacation short for those on both sides of the bargaining table.
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