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Ontario may extend teachers’ contracts

Ontario’s Liberal government is looking at extending teachers’ contracts, which could ensure there would be no contentious education bargaining in the lead-up to the 2018 election.

Premier Kathleen Wynne said the issue arose as part of discussions with education-sector unions over a court ruling earlier this year that said the government violated their collective bargaining rights.

Legislation in 2012, known as Bill 115, imposed contracts on teachers that froze some of their wages and limited their ability to strike, so five unions took the government to court. The judge sided with them, but left the question of a remedy up to the government and unions to decide.

In the course of those talks and while looking at possible changes to the School Board Collective Bargaining Act, the government raised the idea of contract extensions.

Teacher and education-worker contracts currently expire Aug. 31, 2017 and bargaining for the next deals had been likely to start in the spring, about a year before the next provincial election is expected.

When Education Minister Mitzie Hunter was asked if contract extensions are an option for each of the unions, she said she didn’t know.

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