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Nova Scotia public schools to reopen Tuesday

New legislation to force contract on teachers is on hold

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caption The House on Dec. 5th during the vote for a recess from discussion on teacher contract.
Rowan Morrissy

Nova Scotia schools will reopen on Tuesday, Education Minister Karen Casey announced on Monday.

“We are confident that the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) has modified its directives to teachers in such a way that schools can now open safely,” said Casey in a statement.

Casey also said the Liberal government will not introduce the Teachers Professional Agreement (2016) Act, that would force a new contract on teachers.

She announced the legislation on Saturday, two days before members of the NSTU were set to start a work-to-rule job action. Citing student safety as reason, she said teachers had to show up for work Monday, but schools were closed to students. 

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Earlier Monday, Liette Doucet, president of the NSTU, called on the government to open schools.

“Parents, teachers and students are frustrated that the McNeil government has locked out students,” said Doucet in a statement. “It’s unfortunate the government has taken this action, which has placed a tremendous burden on families.”

Later in the day, Jamie Baillie, leader of the Conservatives, called for Casey to be fired.

“A Liberal cocktail of incompetence and dishonesty has led to students being used as pawns. This is not acceptable,” Baillie said in a news release. “The onus is now on Premier Stephen McNeil to do the right thing and remove his Education Minister immediately.”

At a news conference Monday afternoon, Casey said she has “no intention of resigning.”

As for the legislation, it was supposed to be debated at Province House and would impose the contract the NSTU rejected back in September. It would prevent teachers from engaging in job actions, such as work-to-rule. Before any decisions could be made on Monday, the House adjourned and the plan was put on hold.

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