Ontario PC plan would take power away from teachers' unions

Ontario Conservative Leader Tim Hudak speaks to the media at the Ray Friel Recreation Complex in Ottawa, Ont. Tuesday Jan 22, 2013.

Credits: Tony CaldwellOttawa Sun/QMI Agency


OTTAWA — Union bosses in Ontario won't have the power to dictate how teachers spend their time outside the classroom if Tim Hudak's Progressive Conservatives have it their way.

If elected, they're gunning to enact legislation that would prohibit teachers' unions from ordering their members away from extracurricular activities like coaching sports teams and leading school clubs.

"The union has no business telling teachers what to do in their volunteer time," said Hudak at a press conference unveiling a piece of their white paper on education Tuesday.

The party would also add parent-teacher meetings and filling out report cards as essential parts of a teacher's job in the Education Act.

Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation vice president Harvey Bischof called the move "just another ham-fisted approach."

"It would kill the very things from which the extracurricular program arises," said Bischof.

"When you try to bureaucratize and control what arises out of people's goodwill, all you can do is create ill feelings."

Unions have said in the past they would not fine members who continue to coach sports during a strike, although some teachers argue they were shunned by their co-workers.

PC education critic Lisa MacLeod said the Tories' first goal is to get students back into extracurricular activities by taking the power away from union bosses and putting it back into the hands of parents, teachers and principals.

"Schools are built to educate students, not to enable and empower union activists," she said.

Union leaders plan to review their stance on extracurricular activities by March 1, although they may urge teachers to withhold from volunteering for the next two years after contracts were imposed on teachers by the province in early January.

Hudak also pledges to give more authority to principals to give teachers a break from their supervision duties at lunch and recess if they volunteer after school.

Offering rewards for extra work to certain teachers is a slippery slope, said Peter Giuliani, Ottawa-Carleton president of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario president,

"If you're going to go down the rewards path, that's a pretty hard path to do fairly," he said.

He added it's impossible to gauge who should get recess time off — the teacher who coaches a sport or the teacher who tutors math at lunch.

"I think it's a very curious and narrow view of the whole situation," said Giuliani.

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