By Gerry Barker
Posted October 23, 2015
The second day of the teacher union payoffs has escalated to $2.5 million paid to three teacher unions to settle contracts. Wednesday this week, a 42-page secret document detailing the payout to the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF), was obtained by the Globe and Mail.
The Minister of Education, Liz Sandals, MPP Guelph, admitted during Question Period in the Ontario Legislature on Wednesday that this year, three teacher unions were paid bonuses, bribes or adjustment because the period of negotiations was lengthy and costly to the unions.
The Minister admitted yesterday that the unions did not submit any receipts or records of the money they spent in the lengthy negotiation time to justify the $1 million payouts to cover their costs.
It brings back memories of the Calgary consultants hired to the E-Health project who charged $25 for afternoon tea while in Toronto plus frequent first class flights between Calgary and Toronto.
The Minister said the union payments were made because the government changed the bargaining system and the process of adapting to the new system was costly to the unions.
Now it appears the taxpayers are paying the money thanks to the decision by the Minister of Education who had to sign off the payments.
But one teacher’s union, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO), is still trying to settle a new contract after more than a year of negotiating and have not been offered any payment for extended negotiation costs.
Furthermore, they will refuse any offer to reimburse the union for “negotiation costs,” according to ETFO president Sam Hammond.
This leaves the spectre of the entire unionized public sector workers possibly expecting the same million dollar cheque book treatment in the future when they negotiate new contracts.
Ms. Sandals, while admitting the practice of bogus payments for signing has been going since the Liberals took power in 2003, refused to say how much public money has been spent to settle contract negotiations.
The Minister denied that the payments were a bribe to settle the teacher negotiations. Often perception of a situation is more truthful than the line the Ontario Liberals are spinning, Once again they attempt to extricate themselves from acute embarrassment.
Liz Sandals is way out of her depth as Minister of Education. Since her appointment in 2013 by her pal Kathleen Wynne, there has been ongoing turmoil among members of the various teacher and allied unions. Strikes, semi-strikes, working to rule have been the rule.
Ms. Sandals would have us believe that everything is under control except it was the government that radically changed the Teacher and School Board bargaining system that caused the marathon negotiating periods.
Why did they subsidize the unions using public money? The unions all have thousands of members who pay dues for the very purpose of negotiating new contracts.
This secret, barefaced bribe was leaked obviously by someone inside the Ministry who was as disgusted by the payouts as the general public, once the details were discovered.
Don’t expect Sandals to be replaced as Minister because Premier Kathleen Wynne lacks a conscience and besides, she needs Sandals to take the hits over the bumbling education system that is in constant disarray.
And the premior should know more about this than she is letting on.
She was Minister of Education before Liz Sandals took the job.