Premier Kathleen Wynne says elementary teachers can expect a more cordial relationship with her government.
But even so, Wynne got a rough ride Wednesday by delegates at the annual Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.
ETFO members are still stinging from Bill 115, which a couple years ago removed their bargaining rights before Wynne took over the party.
She said she has worked hard ever since to heal the wounds and was instrumental in getting teachers to support the Liberals in the last election.
“Your willingness to work with us in a professional, collaborative way has rebuilt the foundation of our strong relationship,” said Wynne, a former education minister.
“We won a mandate to keep publicly-funded education strong,” she said.
Even so, during a question-and-answer period, Wynne was attacked for being part of a government that brought in “one of the most anti-democratic” pieces of legislation that “(former premier) Mike Harris would have been proud to have his name on.”
Wynne assured the crowd she has worked overtime to restore teachers’ faith in her government.
The premier was also urged to review the funding formula so that money can be put into “crumbling” schools.
“We have acknowledged that there needs to be more funding,” Wynne said.
One teacher said he found it hard to swallow her promises to do better when “you stole $10,000 out of my pocket” when the Grit government got rid of banking sick days for new hires.
Wynne said they should not “just trust me,” but rather judge her on what her government is able to accomplish.
ETFO president Sam Hammond said it is going to take more than platitudes to get his members to trust the Liberals again.
“That was very clear today. And the statements around the Draconian approach with Bill 115 were dead on,” he told reporters later.
“There are still a lot of our members who are still upset with what happened with Bill 115 . . . I don't think ever that people will completely forget Bill 115.”