Ontario government repeals bill 115

The Toronto Star reports that Ontario’s Liberal government has agreed to repeal the controversial bill 115, which limits the collective bargaining rights of teachers. However, the contracts imposed under bill 115 will remain in place. School boards claim the change is only cosmetic and will do nothing to alleviate increased costs arising from the reduction in sick days, as more bureaucracy will be needed to assess short-term disability claims and other matters. Cutbacks to professional development programs for teachers were also cited as an ongoing concern. The government replied that the cost savings would be reinvested in raising the salaries of younger teachers who are lower on the pay grid.

The reaction from teachers has been mixed. The elementary teachers’ union condemned the government’s promise as a pointless symbolic gesture that is too little, too late to repair the state of labour relations in schools. The secondary teachers’ union, however, offered restrained praise, noting it was a useful early step and more could be done once Ontario’s next premier is chosen.