Minister Broten's July 30 Remarks Mislead and Cause Unnecessary Alarm

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 31, 2012) - Ontario students and parents don't deserve to be misled about the possibility of a delay to the beginning of the school year because of labour unrest. On July 30, at a Queen's Park news conference, the Minister of Education said she "will not allow the start of the school year to be delayed or interrupted," and threatened OSSTF and other education unions with legislation if they do not have new collective agreements with school boards by August 31. These threats are political showmanship of the worst kind.

Ken Coran, President of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF), stated that "at no time has OSSTF said that our members would not be in schools in September, welcoming students back. If the Minister understood the collective bargaining process as outlined under the Labour Relations Act, she would know that delaying or interrupting the start of the school year is not possible, and as I have said, not planned by OSSTF."

President Coran also emphasized that "the timelines the Minister has set out for school boards to achieve collective agreements are unrealistic and unachievable. The Minister's deadline places school board trustees in an untenable position and minimizes local problem-solving and collaboration. In working together at the local level with school boards, OSSTF has been able to ensure our members are able to provide students with the services and resources they need to be successful. Now, instead of showing leadership and working with the education sector at all levels, the Minister continues to alienate the very people once considered the government's partners in education and who helped make Ontario's education system the best in the English-speaking world."

"OSSTF has been doing its part for the past six months, contrary to the Minister's call for unions to start doing their part now. We have not only attempted to negotiate on behalf of our teachers and support staff, but we have also publicly stated our willingness, since April of this year, to accept a two-year wage freeze. While we try to avoid bargaining in public, the repeated mischaracterization of our position is enormously frustrating to our membership, which has pledged to do its part to address the government's perceived fiscal position. Indeed, OSSTF has proposed a number of creative and cost-cutting solutions to advance this round of bargaining. Should negotiations come to an impasse, it will be the government's ideological refusal to consider alternative but mutually beneficial proposals that is at fault, not OSSTF members and not school board trustees," concluded Coran.

OSSTF/FEESO, founded in 1919, has 60,000 members across Ontario. They include public high school teachers, occasional teachers, educational assistants, continuing education teachers and instructors, early childhood educators, psychologists, secretaries, speech-language pathologists, social workers, plant support personnel, university support staff, and many others in education.

Contact Information:

Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation
Ken Coran
416.751.8300 or 1.800.267.7867