Politics
Wynne wants to restore relationship with teachers

Credits: Jonathan Jenkins/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency

ANTONELLA ARTUSO | QMI AGENCY

TORONTO - The Ontario government's respectful tone with educators has to be restored, Premier-designate Kathleen Wynne says.

"The process over the last few months in the relationship between education and government has not been what it should have been. And that is of no surprise to anyone that that's my position," Wynne told a meeting of the Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA) Friday where she received a warm ovation.

The new leader also reached across to NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, suggesting that she's prepared to work with her on a youth employment strategy.

Horwath has proposed a "First Start" incentive program to encourage employers to take on young workers.
"If we can find a way to do that then we can govern together," Wynne said.

The premier-designate, who will be sworn in along with her new cabinet Feb. 11, has said she wants to work with the opposition rather than provoke an election.

Energy Minister Chris Bentley, who will not run again in the next election, made it clear Friday he has chosen not to remain in cabinet.

Howard Goodman, a Toronto District School Board trustee who attended the speech, said he's optimistic Wynne will be able to find positive solutions with teacher federations.

Students in public elementary and high schools have not had extracurriculars since teachers withdrew from the voluntary activities last year in protest over contracts imposed on them through the Ontario Liberal's Bill 115.

NDP MPP Catherine Fife said it will take more than a speech to heal the damage that's been done with the province's teachers.

"When Ms. Wynne voted for Bill 115 and stood up and undermined the collective bargaining process we got chaos in our school system," Fife said. "We have a new process in the Province of Ontario -- it's called imposing contracts on public sector workers.

"I don't know what Ms. Wynne is going to be able to put on the table to win back that trust," she said.

Tory MPP Lisa MacLeod said Wynne should consider some of the ideas that her party has proposed to bring extracurriculars back to the schools, including rewarding teachers who participate and stripping unions of the power to penalize members who volunteer.

MacLeod said she's concerned that Wynne will opt to make costly concessions to teacher unions instead.

"The problem with the latter is she's effectively rewarding bad behaviour," she said.

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