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Wynne says positive teacher talks underway to restore extracurricular activities

Lt.-Gov. David Onley listens as Ontario premier designate Kathleen Wynne speaks at the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Thursday January 31, 2013. Wynne will be sworn in as Ontario's 25th premier on Feb. 11. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Premier Kathleen Wynne says there has been progress in talks with Ontario’s public school teachers when it comes to restoring extracurricular activities, but there’s still a ways to go.

“[The talks] are constructive. Would I like to be able to say we’ve reached a conclusion and extracurriculars will be back tomorrow? Obviously I would like to. I can’t give that assurance right now,” she said on Wednesday.

“I’m optimistic. The conversations are very positive. I’m looking forward to a good outcome in the near future.”

A new education minister, Liz Sandals, was appointed this week, replacing Laurel Broten who oversaw the controversial Bill 115. The legislation allowed Broten to impose a two-year contract on public elementary and high school teachers last month.

“I can assure you there are a lot of people working hard to get our school system back on track for the students and for all of the people who work in our schools,” Sandals said on Tuesday.

Members of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) have withdrawn extracurricular activities to protest the legislation.

“I’ve said quite clearly there’s no more money and we’re not starting from scratch on the contracts,” the premier said.

Wynne said extracurricular activities can play a role in alleviating some of the stress students experience. Results of a massive survey conducted for the Toronto District School Board were released this week and showed more than half of high school students are under stress.