Education

N.S. teachers and government return to table

Teacher talks will continue on day of Trudeau visit

Parents and students march in protest of the provincial government in December.   Jodi Brown. Used with permission.

Talks briefly broke down between the province and the Nova Scotia Teacher’s Union (NSTU) on Saturday, after a conciliator concluded both sides had reached “an impasse,” according to a press release from the province.

Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Karen Casey said in the press release that she was “disappointed with this outcome.”

Then on Sunday, the Department of Education and the NSTU both released statements saying they have agreed to return to the table tomorrow, Jan. 16. They have also agreed to a media blackout until these talks are finished and would not comment further when contacted.

Jan. 16 is also the day of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s planned visit to the province. A group in support of the teachers is planning a rally outside the doors of the meeting place during the event. Those attending will meet outside the Dartmouth Sportsplex at 5:15 p.m. Then, they plan to march through the surrounding streets.

Teacher Colin MacEachern says the visit will be an opportunity to bring the issue to Trudeau’s attention. Even though the prime minister cannot directly involve himself in a provincial dispute, MacEachern hopes that Trudeau’s influence can play a part in resolving the issue faster.

“(Trudeau) can sway [the issue] by threatening to not help campaign for McNeil next time, if McNeil is going to lose him federal seats,” he said in a Facebook message.

Earlier this week, Casey criticized the union for what she saw as a violation of the work-to-rule action when teachers took trips to international teacher meetings. On Friday, NSTU President Liette Doucet said in a statement that the was trip was pre-approved before the job action, and therefore permitted.

Kathleen Penney-Winter, whose granddaughter is in elementary school, is a member of the “Nova Scotia Parents for Teachers” Facebook group. She says she’s upset by the media’s focus on these conflicts and thinks more emphasis needs to be put on the situation in classrooms around the province.

“We are falling apart and all the media seems to do is pit government against union,” she said through a Facebook message.

Work-to-rule has been ongoing since Dec. 5.