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Details of teacher contracts to be released 'as soon as possible': minister

Last Updated Jan 26, 2016 at 7:00 am EDT

Education Minister Liz Sandals talks to reporters on Jan. 29, 2015. ONT. PARL

Ontario’s education minister says she wants to release details of teachers’ contracts “as soon as possible,” as questions remain about $3.74 million in payments made to some unions.

Liz Sandals has answered questions about those payments, intended to cover negotiating costs, by promising to release the agreements once all are finalized. As of late last week, central deals had been ratified by all education-sector unions, and Sandals said Monday she is looking at how to release those details without disrupting ongoing local negotiations.

This round of bargaining was the first in which local and central deals were negotiated separately and the Liberal government has defended the payments as necessary because the transition to a new system made the process quite lengthy.

But Sandals said Monday that no other union received payments other than those already reported through the media.

The Liberals paid $2.5 million this year to the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association and the French teachers’ union. In 2008 and 2012 a total of $1.24 million was paid to OSSTF, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents support workers, and the French teachers’ union.

When the story broke last fall, Sandals said the unions hadn’t provided receipts or invoices of their negotiating costs before the government decided to pay OSSTF and OECTA each $1 million and the French teachers’ union $500,000.

But Premier Kathleen Wynne said a week later that the unions would indeed have to provide an accounting of their expenses.

Sandals said Monday that the unions were given a list of permissible expenses and were asked to provide an audited statement of those expenses, but she hasn’t received any yet.