By Russ Blinch
TORONTO, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Ontario's government said on
Thursday it will impose labor contracts on tens of thousands of
teachers in Canada's most populous province as part of its
controversial push to reduce a large budget deficit.
Education Minister Laurel Broten announced contract terms
covering some 130,000 teachers that included a broad wage
freeze, a reduction in the number of sick days and limits on the
number of sick days teachers are allowed to cash out when they
Ontario's Liberal government, which holds only a minority of
seats in the provincial parliament, managed to reach tough new
deals with other teacher groups and its doctors but failed to
come to terms with the larger group of elementary and secondary
The showdown led many teachers to drop extracurricular
activities and take other job action such as one-day strikes.
The new deal will save the province C$250 million ($253.79
million) in 2012-13 and C$540 million in 2013-14, the government
said in a statement. In addition, the government will realize
one time savings of C$1.1 billion from changes to the sick day
The new contracts will expire in August, 2014.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, who announced late last
year that he would resign once the Liberals elect a new leader
in January, pledged last March that the government would reduce
its C$14 billion deficit by holding the line on public sector
The government passed a law last fall covering its public
sector workers that froze wages, cut sick days and limited their
right to strike. The legislation, which sparked furious
opposition from labor groups, set the bargaining deadline for
last Dec. 31.
Ontario's teachers are among the highest paid in Canada, a
country where educators rank as some of the best compensated in
Credit rating agencies have repeatedly warned Ontario that
tackling its deficit would require tough austerity measures.
Healthcare and education make up about 70 percent of
Ontario's spending, with wages and fees accounting for more than
half of the expenses.
($1 = $0.9851 Canadian)
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