Ontarians will not stand for continued labour unrest in schools, Premier Dalton McGuinty says in an open letter addressed to teachers.

The letter, sent to all Ontario school teachers, was dated Jan. 2 -- one day ahead of an expected announcement from Education Minister Laurel Broten on whether the province will impose contracts upon school teachers that have been unable to reach agreements with their local school board.

Under the terms of Bill 115, teachers and support staff had until Dec. 31, 2012 to negotiate a new collective agreement that freezes pay and limits sick days or risk having one imposed upon them.

“Our preference is and has always been negotiated settlements, but after 10 months the bargaining deadline has passed,” McGuinty writes in the letter. “Ontarians expect, rightly, that uncertainty in education will not continue indefinitely.”

So far union locals representing about 90,000 teachers and support staff have submitted ratified agreements to the province; however the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation have so far failed to do so.

On Wednesday, OSSTF president Ken Coran told The Canadian Press that his members will stage a series of one-day strikes if a contract is imposed upon them.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario have also previously said they will refrain from an additional round of one-day strikes only if the province agress not to impose any contracts upon them until a new premier is chosen.

Speaking with CP24 Wednesday afternoon, PC Leader Tim Hudak urged the Liberal government to ignore the threats of unions and go forward with imposing a contract.

“For months we have seen the government saying ‘don’t strike or we’ll enforce the bill’ and they kept backing away,” Hudak said. “I am really worried that tomorrow they are going to back away again, which would show that the teacher unions are actually running the education system and not the government.”

Last month elementary school teachers in the province staged a series of rotating one-day strikes to protest Bill 115.

Those strikes were allowed by the provincial government, so long as 72 hours notice was given.

“If you actually bring a bill forward and say we are going to use this bill, how the heck are you going to get any agreements with any unions going forward?” Hudak said. “If you run at the first sign of trouble then you have no chance of doing the next 3,999 collective agreements we have in this province.”

Broten is expected to announce her decision on the government’s next steps at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

Wynne meets with student leaders

If Broten decides to impose a contract, it would affect tens of thousands of teachers, including those with the Toronto, Peel, York Region, Halton and Durham district school boards.

On Wednesday, Liberal leadership candidate Kathleen Wynne met with student leaders from some of those school boards to discuss the ongoing labour unrest and possible solutions.

“I just hope that a solution is found,” TDSB Student Trustee Kourrosh Houshmand told CP24 following the meeting. “I don’t care about the politics. I’m a student and I’m being affected in that I don’t have my basketball team, I don’t have my social events and that’s what I want to see restored.”

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