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Canada Ontario elementary teachers urge delay in imposing contracts

Sam Hammond, speaking, President of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, and Ken Coran, right, President of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, attend a news conference outside Queen’s Park in Toronto on Sept. 11, 2012.

Kevin Van Paass/The Globe and Ma

Elementary teachers are urging Ontario's Education Minister to postpone imposing new contracts until a new Liberal leader is selected.

Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, will make the announcement Friday morning. He told The Globe and Mail just prior to the announcement that elementary teachers will not take further job action, hopeful that a new leader will resolve the labour impasse.

At a news conference, Mr. Hammond said elementary teachers will end all rotating walkout if Education Minister Laurel Broten does not impose agreements on Dec. 31. He asked her to wait until a new premier is in place  so that he or she can have a "fresh look" at the impasse and reach a "respectful solution."

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Mr. Hammond declined to say what would happen if the government declines ETFO's offer.

In a statement, Ms. Broten he said that she spoke with Mr. Hammond and other union leaders Friday morning, "and I urged them to use these final 10 days to focus their attention on working with local school boards."

"I am calling on the ETFO, OSSTF [Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation] and CUPE leadership [which represents school support workers] to put students first and to reach locally negotiated deals before the December 31 deadline," Mr. Broten said.

Premier Dalton McGuinty is resigning and a new leader will take over at end of January.

Teachers are angry with Bill 115, a controversial piece of legislation that dictates the terms of their contract and restricts their ability to strike.

Elementary teachers have staging rotating one-day strikes across the province over the last two week, shuttering schools.

High-school teachers, meanwhile, have withdrawn all extracurricular activities.

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Although Ms. Broten has the power to block strikes, doing so would create further unrest in Ontario's public education system.

Union leaders have vowed that they will continue to withdraw voluntary services, such as coaching sports teams, supervising clubs and providing extra academic help to students for the length of the two-year government imposed contract.

For Mr. McGuinty, who has built his reputation on peace in education system, the job action tarnishes his legacy.

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