May 2, 2005
Mr. Frank Klees (Oak Ridges): To the Premier. Your Minister of Education has unilaterally negotiated contracts for teacher unions: four-year, 10.5% increases over the last few weeks. Premier, can you tell us how much the total package that your Minister of Education has negotiated will cost taxpayers?
Hon. Dalton McGuinty (Premier, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs): Speaker, I’m going give the supplementary to the minister, but let me just say how proud I am of him and the work he’s been doing.
We are close; we are on the verge of having an unprecedented situation obtained in the province of Ontario, where we’re going to have peace and stability in our schools. We’ll all be focusing on the job at hand, which is improving the quality of education for our children. I would ask you, sir, and Ontarians to compare our record that we’re working hard to develop with the previous government’s record, when 24 million school days were lost as a result of the approach brought by that government to our teachers and our schoolchildren alike.
Yes, I am proud of the work that this minister’s doing. I am proud of the environment we are creating in the province of Ontario, where learning is coming first.
Mr. Klees: I do hope that the Premier will not in fact deflect the supplementary to the Minister of Education, because my question to the Premier is this. At no point during the election campaign did you ever promise a four-year, 10.5% increase to teachers, but what you did promise was that you would fund treatment for autistic children beyond the age of six. You now have a court order telling you to do that, and yet you’re not prepared to do that.
I would like to know from this Premier how he can justify billions of dollars for teacher contracts and fail to keep his promise to autistic children in this province.
Hon. Mr. McGuinty: To the minister.
Hon. Gerard Kennedy (Minister of Education): The basic idea here, of course, is one that’s very hard for the member opposite to understand. The idea here, simply put, is that students win, teachers win, school boards win. There isn’t a need to have people fighting one another in order for our school system to work properly. It’s a very tough concept, I understand, and it stands in direct contrast to what has happened.
In point of fact, there will be more special education resource teachers as part of what comes forward. In the high schools, it will be part of the resources that will flow back in as part of the 1,300 new teachers announced so far.
What I would say about the cost of this arrangement is that it is less than 1% of the total cost of spending on education. The important part is, the part that is benefiting teachers is also benefiting students. The very same teachers who will relieve some of the workload assignments that this government left are just some—