Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford says that poor leadership among teacher unions is to blame for the prolonged labor dispute affecting the province’s education system.
During a press conference on Thursday at Queen’s Park, Ford said union leaders have been stubbornly reluctant to negotiate.
“I think they don’t have good leadership at the head of the unions,” he told reporters, adding that the difference between teachers and their union leaders.
Each of Ontario’s main teacher unions is now in several states of intensified labor action, ranging from rotary strikes to labor-to-government campaigns. All are in legal strike positions.
Unions say the government is not negotiating in good faith, nor has it done enough to address its concerns on a wide range of issues, including class size, mandatory e-learning and compensation.
A coalition of unions has also launched legal challenges over Ford’s government plan to limit public sector wage increases to one percent per year, below the inflation rate.
Ford said unions are primarily concerned with wages, not with the proposed changes that would affect learning within the classroom.
“Make no mistake about it, it is compensation,” he said.
When asked if Ontario would consider salary increases greater than one percent, Ford flatly replied: “No.”
Ontario has partially retraced its planned increase to class size, but Ford said the proposals to introduce compulsory e-learning will remain because “that’s the way of the future.”
“We are confident that we will get an agreement and things will return to normal, hopefully sooner rather than later,” Ford added.
On Wednesday, the government announced that it would financially compensate parents with children affected by rotary strikes.
The ministry says that as of Thursday morning, More than 33,000 people have requested compensation. If all teacher unions went on strike at the same time, more than one million children would be eligible for a subsidy.
Sam Hammond, president of the Ontario Primary Teachers Federation, called the measure a “crazy bribe” intended to win the battle of public opinion.