Bill 115: Ontario Liberals to repeal controversial law, effective Wednesday

Education Minister Laurel Broten says any walkout that takes place past Dec. 31 would be illegal.

The McGuinty government is making good on its promise to repeal Bill 115 — the contentious legislation that imposed contracts on about 130,000 public school teachers and limited their ability to take labour action.

In a statement released on Monday afternoon, education minister Laurel Broten said that the act is no longer needed and will be repealed on Wednesday, Jan. 23.

"The legislation achieved its goal of ensuring fair, balanced and responsible collective agreements for teachers and support staff while protecting the gains made in education and reflecting the province's fiscal reality," the statement read.

[ Related: Ontario uses controversial Bill 115 to force contract on teachers ]

"The Putting Students First Act is a bipartisan solution to a province-wide issue - ensuring fair collective agreements for teachers and support staff while addressing Ontario’s deficit. The act accomplished that goal and is no longer needed. What is needed now is a return to stability in our schools and that includes extracurricular activities for Ontario’s students."

The McGuinty Liberals passed Bill 115 in September — with help from the Tories — and were subsequently met with threats of court action, rotating strikes and withdrawal of extracurricular activities by teachers.

According to Daniel Kitts of TVO, repealing the Bill does not affect the imposed settlements — teachers are stuck with those until 2014. Kitts, however, does say that 115 can still be challenged in court.

"I communicated with Lorne Sossin, Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. He wrote to me that, even with the law repealed, the courts could still hear the case based on 'the fact that there clearly remains a live, adversarial dispute and that the decision will have practical effect on the rights of the parties (for example, whether the imposition of the collective agreements pursuant to the Act was legitimate).'"

Will nixing anti-strike law create peace and harmony between the Liberals and the teachers? Probably not.

Phillip Mack, president of the Thames Valley chapter of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, told the Canadian Press that that the repeal is meaningless for them at this point.

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"The damage has already been done. I think it’s all calculated, and therefore inactive, he said.

"What’s the difference, of just throwing the smoking gun away?"

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