New hiring rules for teachers has union steaming

Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten



TORONTO - New rules on how school boards hire will benefit younger teachers, Education Minister Laurel Broten said Monday.

"I'm sure everyone in Ontario knows a young teacher who has spent time on a supply list, on an occasional list, who would love to get that long-term occasional contract, but has been hampered," Broten said.

"We believe very strongly as a government in the need to encourage young teachers, the thousands of young Ontarians who are going to teachers college, and want nothing more than to be standing in front of a classroom in Ontario."

Each individual school board currently has its own set of hiring rules and Broten said the system needs clarity and transparency.

To achieve that, she said she will bring in regulations in the next few weeks that will impose a set of "fair hiring practices" on every school board in the province. The criteria include qualifications, safety and well-being of students, provision of the best possible program for students, and the experience of the candidate.

Broten said there is also a rule coming into effect in September that will cut the number of days a retired teacher can fill a supply position - to 45 a year from 90 - while still collecting a pension.

Critics say the government's drive to impose a wage and salary-grid freeze before Sept. 1 would penalize younger teachers in particular.

A compromise deal the government hammered out with English Catholic teachers - and which the government has threatened to legislatively impose on all teachers - allows for limited movement up the wage grid for younger teachers.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said forcing a settlement on teachers through legislation will probably be challenged in the courts and, if Ontario were to lose, cost the province close to $800 million.

"They're willing to blow the financial brains out of this province for the purposes of making some political wins in advance of two byelections that are coming in September," Horwath said.

"I think that's unacceptable and I think that's a high-risk game that the taxpayers are going to end up paying for."

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