Doug Ford says Aug. 31 end date for teaching contracts 'never going to happen again'
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is making one pledge ahead of the province and teachers unions going to the bargaining table and it has to do with when their next collective bargaining contract will end.
"Isn't it amazing how the previous government and the union sets a date of August 31st right before the kids go back?" he said in Markham Tuesday. "I can tell you that's never going to happen again under our watch after we get through this."
The province and unions could begin discussions on new contracts by the end of this month and labour groups have until May 31st to give written submissions to education minister Lisa Thompson's proposed plan.
But Thompson said it was too early to discuss when a new end date for a contract would be and that she was looking forward to the talks.
"I respect the premier, but again, I respect our consultation process," she said, and was asked if she was essentially overruling the premier's demand.
"I respect what the premier is saying, but again, we are looking forward to having good faith conversations," she said.
Ford said while he wants to get a deal done with no disruptions to classes, it was the unions that declared war on his government during the election campaign.
"They strike every single government that's in there and let me tell you, the teachers union, they have to get together with the times here," he said, and was asked if he'd be willing to force teachers back to work if they did strike.
"Let's cross that bridge if it happens, I'm going to do everything in our power to make sure this doesn't happen," he said.
Last week, Elementary Teachers Federation President Sam Hammond said while his group will go into negotiations in good faith, rhetoric from the Ford Government will likely make discussions "extremely problematic and difficult."
Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said Ford and Thompson should get on the same page.
"The premier is saying one thing and the minister is saying another thing, contract negotiations with teachers are serious business," he said. "It doesn't lean a lot of confidence around our students education moving forward into the fall."