No more money for teachers, Wynne says
Incoming Ont. Premier Kathleen Wynne at Queens Park in Toronto, Ont. on Wed. Jan. 30, 2013 for one on one interview with Toronto Sun. Dave Thomas/QMI Agency
Teacher unions got a lesson in arithmetic from incoming premier Kathleen Wynne, who said she has no intention of caving in on public sector wage restraint.
“I assume by caving in you mean finding more money and putting it into the contract,” Wynne said Wednesday.
“I’ve made it very clear that I’m not going to do that. There is no more money. It’s not going to be possible to put more money into this contract. We have to have that wage constraint.”
Instead, Wynne said she had a “constructive” first meeting Tuesday with Sam Hammond of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario and Ken Coran of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, who have spearheaded the union opposition to their members’ government-imposed contracts.
“All along I have said that I believed the process didn’t work the way it should have — that it wasn’t as respectful a process on either side as it should have been,” Wynne said.
“That’s the beginning of the conversation for me. How do we put a better process in place for next time and how do we get back to a respectful relationship so we don’t have to worry about kids getting extracurriculars in the school and where we don’t have to worry about the rancour in the system — that’s where I want to go.”
That doesn’t mean Wynne has any idea when extracurriculars — suspended in protest by many teachers — could return.
“I can’t answer that question. I don’t know,” she said.
Wynne is expected to visit Lt.-Gov. David Onley early next week and be invited to form a government in which the Liberals have a tenuous grip on power. The Liberal minority government is outnumbered 54 seats to 53 by the combined opposition.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath put forward list of proposals — including cracking down on corporate tax loopholes, beefing up job training and improving social assistance — that her party would like to see in exchange for supporting Wynne’s fledgling administration.
But Horwath has also demanded a public inquiry into the $230-million cost of relocating two politically-sensitive gas plants before the 2011 election.