Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Premier-Designate Kathleen Wynne Promises to Mend Fences with Angry Teachers

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Premier-Designate Kathleen Wynne Promises to Mend Fences with Angry Teachers

Article excerpt

Wynne promises to mend fences with teachers

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TORONTO - Ontario's premier-to-be is promising to change the tone between teachers, school boards and the government to end the labour strife over imposed contracts.

Premier-designate Kathleen Wynne said Friday she wants to repair the relationship with teachers and school boards so they can work together to improve education in Ontario.

Speaking to members of the Ontario Public School Boards' Association, the former education minister said she's already reached out to union leaders, her caucus and the opposition parties to find a way to move forward.

"You know how close to my heart the work that you do is, and I also know the pain that you've been going through in the last few months," said Wynne, a former school trustee.

"I've felt it. You know I have. And I want to reassure you that the process going forward is going to change. It's going to be different. We are going to restore that respectful dialogue."

But it's unclear whether Wynne will be able to succeed in bringing extracurricular activities back.

The governing Liberals outraged public school teachers when they forced new two-year contracts that cut their benefits and froze the wages of most educators.

Many teachers have stopped supervising extracurricular activities in protest of the move, as well as the controversial anti-strike legislation passed in September that gave the government the power to do it. Bill 115 was repealed a week ago, just before the leadership convention, but the contracts still stand.

Wynne has said that she won't tear up the imposed contracts, but will talk with the unions about how they can approach the next round of negotiations in 2014.

"I don't know what Ms. Wynne is going to be able to put on the table to win back that trust and rebuild that trust," said New Democrat Catherine Fife, a former trustee and president of the Ontario Public School Boards' Association.

"I think the damage has been done."

The minority Liberals also alienated school boards, who were under pressure to strike local agreements with teachers before January. …

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