Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce is calling on the union that represents public high school teachers to cancel a one-day strike planned for Wednesday.
“My message to parents, on the eve of potential job action, is that our government has remained reasonable at the negotiating table, with the objective of keeping students in class,” Lecce told reporters on Tuesday.
His comments came hours before Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), which has 60,000 members, is expected to announce whether or not it will walk out for a day to protest against stalled contract talks.
Lecce said the strike by the OSSTF, which has 60,000 members, would be “needless escalation.”
The minister said since the Ontario government first began bargaining, the union has not made any “substantive moves” to reach an agreement. He said the union is insisting on a $1.5-billion increase in pay and benefits.
“To assert that it is not about compensation is preposterous,” Lecce said.
“The onus is on OSSTF to be reasonable, stay at the table, and to cancel this needless escalation that is hurting children, parents, and families.”
Lecce was expected to provide an update on bargaining talks between the province and union but used the opportunity to criticize the union.
Contract talks appeared to be at a standstill on Tuesday ahead of the possible one-day strike that could close many schools across the province.
Earlier, Lecce had said his bargaining team had presented a new “framework” to negotiators for the OSSTF in an attempt to keep all parties at the table.
Both sides are bargaining at the Sheraton Centre Hotel in downtown Toronto.