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Ontario Education Minister urges teachers to restore normalcy at schools

Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten during a meeting with Globe and Mail editorial board on Jan. 7, 2013.

Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten appealed to teachers to restore normalcy to the public school system.

Speaking to The Globe and Mail's editorial board on Monday, Ms. Broten asked teachers to disregard suggestions from their union leaders that they continuing withdrawing extracurriculars. She said there was a great deal of "misinformation" about contracts that were imposed on teachers last week and encouraged educators to read over the terms of the contract for themselves.

The imposed contracts make strike action illegal. The government, however, cannot force teachers to perform voluntary activities, including coaching sports teams, supervising clubs and providing after-school help.

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Ms. Broten appealed to teachers to resume these activities.

"What do we need to do to move forward? I think we need to hope," she said.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario is encouraging its 76,000 members to continue withdrawing extracurriculars. Ken Coran, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, said his members are being encouraged to do the same.

"For us right now, everything is exactly as it was prior to the Christmas break," Mr. Coran said in an interview.

Teachers are upset by Bill 115, a controversial piece of legislation that cuts their sick days and delays raises for younger teachers. Ms. Broten promised to repeal the bill now that the terms have already been imposed. But teachers have called that an empty gesture.

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