Minister of Education Lisa Thompson is urging teachers’ unions across the province to take the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation’s lead and accept an invitation to start early bargaining in good faith for a new contract.

In a statement released Tuesday, the Education Minister says “The current education sector labour agreement negotiated by the previous government expires on August 31, 2019, which coincides with the start of the fall school year”

“We believe this is unacceptable” adding, “Our government will be considering changing the expiry date of future education sector labour agreements to a different time of year to minimize any disruption to students’ ability to attend class”

Thompson says she is pleased the OSSTF is coming to the bargaining table early in good faith but says,  “We are extremely disappointed the remaining teachers’ federations and education workers’ unions have not responded to this opportunity”.

OSSTF District 4 Near North President Glen Hodgson says its always been their goal to avoid any disruption in the fall.

It requires two sides and we certainly are happy to engage in a process with the idea of engaging early to avoid disruption in the fall is always been our goal, it’s been our goal all along.

But, we are hopeful that the Minister and the government will actually have sincere relations with us in terms of ongoing education issues.

– Glen Hodgson, President OSSTF District 4 Near North

As for the other unions accepting the Minister’s invitation to early good faith bargaining, Hodgson says other unions have their own plans and their own procedures that they follow and will do whatever they feel is in the best interest of their members.

Addressing her government’s commitment to the process, Thompson concludes, “Our government wants to work cooperatively with the unions to address the real issues with our education system and we are prepared to immediately begin bargaining in good faith.”