Ontario’s education minister and the head of the province’s biggest teachers’ union are openly accusing each other of lying to the public about ongoing contract negotiations.
In back-to-back interviews on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Tuesday, both men said the other is spreading misinformation about the role that compensation played in three days of talks last week that ended without any discernable progress.
“I’m here to tell you, without hesitation, that we did not talk about compensation at that table over that three-day period,” said Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO). The union represents some 83,000 members, including teachers and education support staff, across the province.
“This minister needs to stop lying to people, parents and the public. Because that did not happen and it was not a key or central issue during those three days.”
Education Minister Stephen Lecce took exemption to Hammond’s assertion that compensation for teachers didn’t come up during last week’s negotiations.
“That is patently false. Of course it did. Benefits and pay certainly came up over that process. There is a real contrast of priorities. They want us to make significant benefit enhancements and increase compensation, which we cannot accept,” Lecce said.
“If we are going to be putting more money into the system, it ought to be going to students.”
Meanwhile, thousands of students will be out of class today as all Ontario’s Catholic teachers hit the picket lines, as well as high school and elementary teachers in select boards.
The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association is holding its second provincewide strike today after holding contract talks with the government on Monday, but no deal was reached and no further dates for talks are scheduled.
Elementary teachers will engage in their second day of ramped-up rotating strikes, hitting more school boards per day than they did during the job actions they held over the past two weeks.
Today, ETFO is targeting the Avon Maitland, Durham, Hastings-Prince Edward, Lambton Kent, Peel, Rainbow, Thames Valley and Upper Grand school boards as well as Campbell Children’s School Authority, and is planning a provincewide strike on Thursday.
High school teachers will strike at the Lakehead, Lambton Kent, Thames Valley, Waterloo Region, York Region, Halton and Kawartha Pine Ridge school boards.