This morning, Ontario’s Education Minister Laurel Broten told reporters elementary and secondary school teachers were being offered a two-year deal that would freeze salaries and put an end to retirement payouts for unused sick days.
Should her government follow through, this would mark a significant departure in policy by our education-friendly premier, Dalton McGuinty. The existing agreements, which were signed in 2008 and which expire Aug. 31 of this year, gave elementary teachers 10.4 per cent salary hikes over four years, and secondary teachers 12.55 per cent over the same period.
This along with increases to their salary grid allowed, in Ms. Broten words, “many teachers [to] have been receiving total pay increases of 8.5 per cent annually.”
Importantly, the new deal would also end an existing provision that allows many teachers to carry over up to 200 unused sick-days to retirement when they are paid out as a lump sum equal to 50 per cent of their current salary.
This nice bit of tax money give-away will cost Ontario a whopping $118-million this year—the total liability on the government’s books to date is $1.7-billion.
In regards to Don Drummond’s recent recommendations to cut full-day kindergarten and hike class sizes, Ms. Broten told reporters, “We appreciate [Mr. Drummond’s] advice, but we have a different idea.”
Let’s hope her “different idea” is nothing like the secret deal Premier McGuinty cut with Ontario civil servants, giving them a three per cent pay hike after last fall’s election. This despite Finance Minister Dwight Duncan’s promise to freeze wages in his 2010 budget.