Ontario To Introduce Wage Freeze Legislation for Teachers
On August 16, 2012, the Ontario government announced its intention to introduce the Putting Students First Act, legislation that would, if passed, impose a two-year freeze on teacher salaries and prohibit labour disruption, among other matters.
Specifically, the Bill would require school boards and local bargaining units of teachers and support staff to accept local agreements consistent with the following provisions and parameters, first outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding between the government and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (“OECTA”) and similar agreements negotiated before August 31, 2012:
- a zero per cent salary increase in 2012-13 and 2013-14;
- a 1.5 per cent pay cut in the form of three unpaid professional development days;
- agreement to restructure the grid with a view to long-term, sustainable savings;
- elimination of the current retirement gratuity for payment of unused sick days;
- a restructured short-term sick leave plan that would include up to 10 sick days;
- agreement to address non-monetary issues including greater autonomy for teachers in applying diagnostic assessments; and
- prohibit strikes or lockouts for a two-year period.
If passed, the Bill would come into effect on September 1, 2012 but would provide until December 31, 2012 for parties to engage in collective bargaining. In the event negotiated collective agreements do not meet the standards set out in the legislation, the Minister of Education would have the power to withhold approval, and agreements may be imposed on the parties.
A Backgrounder on the Putting Students First Act is available here. The government has also announced plans to file a new regulation relating to occasional teacher hiring practices.
The government has indicated that the Legislature may be recalled early to consider the Bill, and that if the Bill passes after September 1, 2012, it will have retroactive application.
We will continue to monitor the Bill, and will post a copy of the Bill’s text when it is publicly available. An FTR Now on this issue will also be available shortly on our website.