Nova Scotia's education reform bill to be introduced Thursday: premier
Published Wednesday, February 28, 2018 4:07PM AST Last Updated Wednesday, February 28, 2018 6:54PM AST
HALIFAX -- After two meetings and a phone call with the head of Nova Scotia's teachers union, Premier Stephen McNeil says his government is ready to introduce its education reform bill on Thursday.
The move comes three days after McNeil emerged from a one-on-one meeting with union chief Liette Doucet saying he felt there was room for compromise over Liberal government's reform plans, which include the removal of 1,000 principals, vice-principals and supervisors from the union.
McNeil said Wednesday he told Doucet about the legislation in a phone call, and sent a copy to the union.
Neither he nor Doucet would discuss the bill's contents, and the premier was coy on whether it included changes based on concerns raised by the union.
"I've considered them and I've sent the bill to her and all of you will see the bill tomorrow," McNeil told reporters.
In a statement late Wednesday, Doucet confirmed the union has seen "an embargoed copy" of the bill and said: "The NSTU provincial executive will be meeting tomorrow to discuss the contents of this bill, and to determine an appropriate response."
McNeil said he wants to get the legislation passed before the March break.
In a vote last week, more than 80 per cent of public school teachers voted for strike action to protest the province's decision to largely endorse reforms contained in a recent report from education consultant Avis Glaze.
Glaze said principals and vice-principals should be moved into a new professional association to eliminate any potential conflict of interest when both management and employees are in the same union.
Her report also recommends eliminating the province's seven English-language school boards and creating a provincial college of educators to license and regulate the teaching profession.
McNeil was asked whether teachers would be happy with the legislation.
"I hope they are," he said. "The reality of it is I've yet to make a decision here that's made everybody happy. My goal is to do what is in the best interest of all of us and I'm doing what I believe is in the best interests of kids."
McNeil said his conversation with Doucet was cordial and said they didn't discuss whether the bill would prompt some kind of job action by the union.
Any strike would be illegal -- and teachers could face fines of up to $1,000 a day.
Doucet also met with Education Minister Zach Churchill last Friday.
The extensive reforms come a year after teachers walked off the job for a day and staged a protest outside the provincial legislature. The Liberal government eventually passed legislation ending a 16-month contract dispute with teachers, which also ended a work-to-rule job action.