1test

Report: Liberals paid $468 million for labour peace

Unexpected price tag for renegotiation with teachers revealed this week

When Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne renegotiated public school teachers’ contracts last year, it set her up to win a historic electoral victory. It also cost taxpayers $468 million.

In 2012, the Liberals had originally planned to save $2.4 billion by freezing teachers’ pay, shrinking pension plans and by slashing their sick days.

It was their intent to help alleviate Ontario’s $10.5 billion deficit, which in 2012 had been12.5 billion.

The Liberal convention, where Wynne won her leadership, was marred by tens of thousands of protests from public education unions.

Ontario’s Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk released a report Wednesday detailing the provincial government’s costs and savings in collective agreements with teachers’ unions since September 2012. This report revealed the unplanned expense.

The report attempted to highlight the Auditor General’s belief that cutting teachers’ benefits would save $2 billion.

This is how the costs break down:

$200 Million for increasing sick days, paying substitute teachers to cover those days, allowing more employees to retire, paying employees who lost retirement benefits and reimbursing school boards for negotiating with unions.

$155 Million for reducing unpaid Professional Activity Days, increasing maternity benefits (an incentive for taking fewer sick day), increasing the payout for employees who lose retirement benefits and further reimbursing boards for negotiations.

$113 Million for paying all teachers at the same rate as the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario teachers.

The Auditor General will issue reports on the Pan Am Games security and Smart Meters in the coming weeks.