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Scott Thompson: If it’s ‘all about the kids,’ Ontario’s teachers must accept government’s deal

Ontario education minister hoping for deal after concessions made
WATCH: (March 4, 2020) A day after Education Minister Stephen Lecce walked back some policy changes in a bid to end the impasse with teachers' unions, he remains frustrated with a lack of progress. Meanwhile, on the eve of another province-wide strike, one union says it’s prepared to bargain to avoid a work stoppage. Matthew Bingley reports.

Ontario’s teachers and their powerful unions were clearly caught off guard on Tuesday when Education Minister Stephen Lecce gave them everything they were asking for — with the exception of an annual two per cent raise.

It’s never about teacher compensation and always about the students — that’s been the mantra of the unions for the last 40 years, no matter who is in power.

If that’s the case, this should be a done deal.

READ MORE: Teachers’ union says new offer brings sides closer but strikes still planned

Lecce rolled back high school class size and made e-learning optional for those who are skeptical about technology.

Those were the two sticking points for the unions that had yet to be addressed, and now they have been.

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The government has maintained it wants the money going to the kids and classrooms, not the teachers and their unions.

But that is what we have.

READ MORE: Ontario government changes position on higher class sizes, mandatory e-learning

Many are pointing to the Ford government’s backtrack as a defeat.

I’m not convinced a government that listens to constituents and corrects itself when needed is a bad thing, though.

Maybe if Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals had listened to Ontarians, our electricity rates wouldn’t have gone through the roof. Instead, she called us “very bad actors” and doubled down.

In the end, Lecce and the Ford government handled this strategically, keeping the money in the classroom and the teachers’ personal demands out of it.

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The teachers’ unions played this hand the same way they have for decades and the government called their bluff.

It will now be fascinating to see how the teachers’ unions react, if it’s indeed all about the kids.

Scott Thompson is the host of The Scott Thompson Show on Global News Radio 900 CHML — Hamilton.​​​​