Premier Dalton McGuinty has recalled the Ontario Legislature early in order to deal with a bill that would enforce a new contract on Ontario teachers. Bill 115, Putting Students First Act, 2012 would freeze teachers’ pay for two years; cut the number of sick days in half and prohibit unused sick days from being cashed out at retirement. Finally, the legislation would prevent strikes and lockouts for two years. See the details of the bill here.
Ontario Liberals are trying to expedite passage of the bill by addressing some of the concerns expressed by the Progressive Conservatives with regards to seniority-based hiring methods. In response, Education Minister Laurel Broten announced that only agreements signed by August 31st will allow the practice of hiring substitute teachers based on seniority as opposed to suitability.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath criticized the bill, stating that there was no risk of labour disruption at this point and that negotiations with local school boards should be allowed to continue.
Bill 115 spurred a massive teacher’s protest on the lawn of Queen’s Park gathering as many as 4,000 demonstrators on the morning of August 28.
The legislation is being debated while two provincial by-elections are underway in Vaughan and Kitchener-Waterloo. The by-elections could lead to a de facto majority government if the Liberals were to win both seats.