Staff and students at local school boards are still under a cloud, as Ontario Premier Doug Ford isn't backing down, when it comes to contract talks. He told the legislature during Question Period says the province has offered secondary teachers an extra $750 million, but the offer has been refused.

"To put that into perspective, Mr. Speaker, it's every resident in the leader's riding -- matter of fact let's make it all of Hamilton, all of Burlington, all of Oakville. They're paying an extra thousand dollars in tax. That doesn't fly, Mr. Speaker," the premier said.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce emphasized the point in a statement late Friday saying, "OSSTF union leadership have made clear that they will continue to take job action—which hurts students most—unless taxpayers accept their demand of $7 billion in enhancements to salaries, benefits, and other entitlements."

Elementary teachers and English Catholic teachers are also in contract talks with the province for a new contract. Support workers with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the Educational Workers' Alliance of Ontario (EWAO) have reached agreements. 

"We are calling on OSSTF to cease from continued job action, accept our offer of private mediation, stay at the table, and focus on improving learning in the classroom, not enhancing compensation for their members," Lecce continued Friday.

Secondary teachers in Kenora make their presence felt, during last week's school board meeting.Last week, local teachers in the district said their top issue was a cap on class size, rather than salaries or benefits.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) is the union representing secondary school teachers. According to the union, the main issues are the government’s plans to increase class sizes, a lack of job security, and the introduction mandatory e-learning courses. According to the government, the issue is compensation.

Local union president Cindy Hayward said it was about trying to maintain teaching standards in the classroom. Even with an average class size of 25, some classes could easily exceed 30 students in a class, which might make it difficult for instructors to ensure each of their pupils is getting the time needed. 

For more information:

Minister of Education on Continued OSSTF Job Action

Teachers still fighting for new contract