Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty
Credits: DARREN BROWN/QMI AGENCY
"I know we are going through a rough patch with some of our teachers. I understand that. I even accept that," McGuinty said Wednesday. "But the differences, if there are any, are between us and teachers. I just don't think we should create differences between teachers and students.
"I don't think we should allow our disagreement to interfere with a great activity that takes place inside our schools."
McGuinty visited the new waterfront campus of George Brown College in Toronto to announce a new fast-track process for student financial support applications -- OSAP express.
McGuinty and the teachers have had a strong and positive relationship over the course of his government. However, the Ontario government and educators are now at odds over Bill 115 -- provincial legislation which provides a 0% pay increase for teachers and prohibits them from striking for two years.
"What I can't accept would be any decision on the part of teachers to withdraw services that are, in fact, part and parcel of what kids have come to expect from Ontario's great teachers," McGuinty said about the loss of extracurriculars such as clubs and sports.
Teachers and school staff represented by the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO), the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) and CUPE Ontario are vowing to battle the controversial legislation.
The unions say the bill is an unconstitutional attack on their right to collective bargaining.
Both teachers' associations have asked their members to consider withdrawing from extra activities in protest.
McGuinty said he's determined to ensure that the broader public sector shares in efforts to eliminate the deficit by holding the line on wage increases for two years.
His government will move to freeze broader public sector salaries through an across-the-board process, McGuinty said.
But the premier stopped short Wednesday of saying he would move unilaterally, adding he intends to allow for some collective bargaining.