Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he is not currently seriously considering back-to-work legislation amid ongoing strife with education unions, but added there is “only so long” his patience can last with union bosses.
Speaking in Mississauga, Ford said he government will not budge on a 1 per cent public sector wage cap that is set to remain in place for the next three years. He said that Education Minister Stephen Lecce has made a number of concessions during negotiations with teachers’ unions and again criticized union leadership.
“Hopefully they are going to come to their senses — the unions, not the teachers,” he said.
The comments come as public elementary school teachers and support staff continue rotating, one-day strikes that have affected boards across the province. The other three major teachers’ unions have also been engaged in various kinds of job-actions in the last several weeks.
The unions say that the government isn’t negotiating in good faith. There are a number of sticking points that have caused talks break down, they say, including class sizes, mandatory e-learning, compensation for teachers and education support staff, as well as support for students with special education needs.
The various sides have not sat down since mid-December, and no new talks are currently scheduled.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario has announced more walk-outs for next week.
Ford was in Mississauga to announce $1.5-million in new provincial funding for Peel Regional Police. The money comes from nearly $20 million to “strengthen community policing” that was already announced. He was Attorney General Doug Downey and Solicitor General Silvia Jones, as well as local MPPs and the mayors of Mississauga and neighbouring Brampton.
The premier also faced questions about the province plans to tackle so-called “hallway health care.” A CBC Toronto investigation this week revealed that it has become routine in many of Ontario’s busiest hospitals and the problem seems to be getting worse.