Ontario public high school teachers' union votes to resume extracurricular duties
TORONTO -- Ontario's high school students are one step closer to being able to enjoy extracurricular activities, the union representing the province's secondary school teachers suggested Friday.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation said local leaders held a vote during which they agreed to "suspend political action" related to tumultuous labour negotiations with the Liberal government.
Most of the province's public school teachers had stopped participating in non-classroom-related activities in protest of Bill 115, a controversial law that imposed two-year contracts on more than 126,000 public educators. The results of the vote were not released.
OSSTF president Ken Coran said the decision to resume extracurricular activities will be left up to individual teachers.
"We still maintain that voluntary activities are just that: voluntary," Coran said in a statement.
"We encourage members to review recent information and decide if they are willing to return to participating in the activities we know they feel so passionately about."
Coran said he hoped the vote result would be taken as a sign of good will that would encourage the government of newly minted Premier Kathleen Wynne to reopen dialog with the province's teachers.
Wynne -- a former education minister -- reached out to the teachers during her leadership campaign, promising to develop a better process for the next round of negotiations, but made it clear she will not rip up the contracts imposed by the government Jan. 1.
Wynne issued a statement praising the result of the union vote.
"Today's news is a great indication of the hard work all parties are putting into the repair of this valued relationship," she said.
"It shows our willingness to work together, to listen to one another's concerns, and to find common ground on which we can rebuild a foundation of trust and create an effective process going forward.
More details of the OSSTF decision will be released at a news conference on Monday.
Wynne has also met with unions representing Ontario's elementary school teachers, but political protests continue.