“We're bringing the Legislature back early so that students and parents have the certainty of knowing that their school year will not be disrupted and to ensure we have the same peace and stability we have enjoyed for the past nine years,” the government said in the press release.
Parents are preparing for the upcoming school year, and they need to know that the government will take the necessary steps to protect the gains that have made in education, it stated.
The province said it has been working with its partners in education for almost six months to reach agreements; however, in less than two weeks, teachers' contracts will expire and roll over, leading to automatic increases in wages of up to 5.5 per cent and two million more bankable sick days that can be cashed out at retirement. Taxpayers can't afford that.
Legislation moves through a minority parliament as slow as molasses, the press release stated The government said it is calling on the PCs and the NDP to step up and support a “fair” and “balanced” approach to ensuring stability in schools.
"We have a choice," the press release stated. "Do we protect full-day kindergarten or increase teachers' salaries? Do we protect smaller class sizes or do we allow contracts to automatically roll over? For the government, the choice is clear. We'll protect Ontario students' education."
The NDP, on the other hand, said the government is creating a crisis by imposing artificial deadlines on teacher negotiations and scaremongering about costs and strikes, instead of working to find a real solution.
In their own press release, the NDP states McGuinty’s simplistic legislation is a reckless vote grab, and that the Liberals’ reckless scheme shows that all they care about power and a majority for themselves, not what is best for students.
"The government is selling this legislation as necessary to ensure school is not disrupted in September, but unions have said all teachers will be in the classroom at the start of year," the NDP said in the release. "The McGuinty government claims the legislation will save $473 million associated with automatic teacher grid movement and increased bankable sick days on Sept. 1, but have refused to provide a breakdown."
The Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association notes that the $473-million figure is an overstatement of costs faced by boards should agreements not be reached by Sept. 1, the NDP said.