Canada: Cabinet Order Imposes MOU On School Boards And Unions

Acting on the advice of the Minister of Education, the Lieutenant Governor in Council (i.e. the Ontario Cabinet) issued an order under subsection 9(2) of the Putting Students First Act ("PSFA" or "Bill 115") on January 2, 2013 (the "Order in Council"). The Order in Council imposes the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding entered into on July 5, 2012 ("MOU") between the Government and Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association ("OECTA") on school boards and unions across Ontario.

The Order in Council states as follows:

  1. For the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years, the Collective Agreement between a Board in Column 1 of Schedule "A" and the Bargaining Agent in Column 2 opposite the Board in respect of the Bargaining Unit in Column 3 opposite the Bargaining Agent shall be the Collective Agreement between the parties in operation for the 2008-12 school years ("Incorporated Agreement"), as modified or replaced by the corresponding Memorandum of Understanding in (the "MOU") in Column 4 opposite the Bargaining Unit, O. Reg 313/12 (Sick Leave Provisions, 2012-13) and the regulation titled "General" made under the Act, the regulations titled "Sick Leave Credits and Sick Leave Credit Gratuities" and "Hiring Practices" made under the Education Act and any other regulations that may be made that specifically provide for modifications or replacements ("Regulation").
  2. If a provision of the Incorporated Agreement is inconsistent with any of the terms or conditions set out in the MOU and Regulation such provision is deemed to be inoperative to the extent of the inconsistency.
  3. A provision of the Incorporated Agreement is inconsistent with the terms or conditions set out in the MOU and Regulation if the provision changes, nullifies or limits the operation of a provision of the MOU and Regulation.
  4. A Board and Bargaining Agent cannot by mutual consent revise the Collective Agreement to make it inconsistent with the terms of the applicable MOU in Column 4 and Regulation.

Schedule "A" to the Order in Council contains a list of 289 collective agreements between school boards and bargaining agents that are now subject to the terms of the MOU. All new contracts imposed under the Order in Council are retroactive to Sept. 1, 2012 and will expire on Aug. 31, 2014.


At a press conference on January 3, 2013, the Minister announced that she has approved all 65 local agreements that were submitted prior to the December 31, 2012 deadline in the PSFA. She also announced the Order in Council, which had not previously been made public.

The Minister advised that the Canadian Union of Public Employees ("CUPE") has until January 14, 2013 to ratify 110 local agreements, failing which the Minister would presumably impose contracts under the PSFA. CUPE announced on December 30, 2012 that it had reached a tentative agreement with the Government, which would be put to its leadership for a vote on January 5, 2013.1 It is now expected that the agreement will be put to local membership for ratification on January 12 and 13, 2013, which explains the Government's extension of the deadline under the PSFA to January 14, 2013. CUPE has stated that it would not release any details about the agreement until its leadership votes.

The Minister said that repealing the PSFA is an important step to take as Ontario moves forward and develops a new, centralized bargaining model for future rounds of negotiations. The Minister stated that after the ratification period for CUPE and before the end of January 2013, she would move to repeal the PSFA. She referred several times to the importance of reducing the Government's $14 billion deficit, while acknowledging that the PSFA had become a "lightning rod" for tension in the education sector. The Minister's intention to impose contracts and then repeal the PSFA came as a surprise to many in the education sector, and has generated considerable discussion. Some critics see the gesture as equivalent to closing the barn door after the horse has left the barn.

Leading up to her announcement to impose new contracts and eventually repeal the PSFA, the Minister made some general remarks about the rationale for the PSFA. The Minister stated that the decision to impose collective agreements is a reflection of the Government's fiscal realities. In the Government's view, a choice had to be made between protecting the school system and giving teachers a raise. The Minister said that giving teachers a raise would have required larger classes and a loss of 7,000 teaching positions. According to the Minister, the PSFA was intended as a "one-time measure" and has served its purpose. The three objectives of the PSFA were: to protect the gains made in schools, minimize school disruption during the extended bargaining period, and avoid significant job losses while addressing the deficit.


Following the press conference on January 3, 2013, the Minister responded to questions from members of the media. When asked about whether repealing the PSFA would bring back goodwill and extra-curricular activities, the Minister responded that the PSFA put collective agreements in place, but that she believed it was important to remove "hurdles" for the bringing back of extra-curricular activities, and it was her "sincere hope" that they will come back. When asked whether there would be any recourse for teachers who withhold extra-curriculars, the Minister responded that she had heard from unions that the PSFA is the only impediment to extra-curriculars, and that she had removed the barrier, and was hopeful that extra-curriculars would return.

The Minister was also asked about illegal strikes. She stated that unions were not in a legal position to take strike action, so she encouraged the unions not to encourage teachers to strike. When asked what the penalties of illegal strike action would be, and whether Sam Hammond, President of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario ("ETFO") would go to jail if he encourages his members to strike, the Minister responded that the Ontario Labour Relations Board ("OLRB") could issue a cease and desist order. She stated that she was not in a position to speculate on what the OLRB would do.


Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, whose party voted in favour of the PSFA, has been quoted in media reports as stating: "I worry that the government is going to throw out the first bill that had a wage freeze in it...That tells me they want to put the union bosses back in charge of running the province."2

Cheri DiNovo, an NDP MPP, responded immediately following the Minister's press conference on January 3, 2013, and commented that "You don't impose agreements. You come to agreements." Ms. DiNovo has said she felt that repealing Bill 115 only after invoking it was "cynical politics at its worst".3

Annie Kidder, Executive Director of People for Education, has stated in media reports that the imposition of contracts won't address concerns that teachers will continue to boycott extra-curriculars until the new contracts expire on August 31, 2014.4

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation ("OSSTF") has been quoted as saying there are "hard feelings" with the government, and that the "goodwill that was earned from both very much tarnished right now."5

Sam Hammond, President of ETFO, stated that repealing the PSFA "will in no way erase the stain."6


The Legislature was prorogued on October 15, 2012. A date to recall the Legislature has not been announced. The new leader of the Liberal Party, and next Premier of Ontario, will be determined at a convention to be held January 25-27, 2013.

In the meantime, we can expect further labour unrest in the education sector arising from the Order in Council, and the continued disagreement over the PSFA. Critics of the Government's most recent actions to impose the MOU by an Order in Council have suggested that teachers may continue withdrawing extra-curricular activities, perhaps for as long as August 31, 2014, when the contracts imposed by the Government are set to expire. The Minister has stated several times that any strike action taken before the expiry of the new contracts will be illegal.

Although the Government has been sharply criticized for Bill 115, including by some Liberal leadership candidates, in fairness, centrally negotiated settlements were achieved with a number of unions in the education sector and certain school boards concluded collective agreements during the window of bargaining established by the PSFA. The Catholic teachers and the French-language teachers reached centrally negotiated agreements and, in what was perhaps the Minister's own Christmas "miracle", CUPE came to an agreement just prior to the December 31, 2012 deadline.

It is, of course, the public school English-language system, whose members are represented by ETFO and OSSTF, where the greatest degree of uncertainty remains as school re-commences in 2013. ETFO has referred to the province-wide vote of its members taken between December 2-4, 2012 to engage in a day of political protest. ETFO engaged in rotating one-day strikes in December, and pledged at a press conference on December 21, 2012 not to engage in further strikes if the Government did not impose contracts under the PSFA. Given the imposition of contracts under the Order in Council issued on January 2, 2013, one wonders what ETFO's next move will be. Although the leaders of both ETFO and OSSTF have been careful in media reports not to be seen as encouraging strike activity, it remains to be seen what level of disruption will be brought to bear on the system, whether it will be lawful, and what steps the government or local public school boards will take to deal with any disruptions. Given the level of the rhetoric from the teachers of ETFO and OSSTF, it is difficult to see ETFO and OSSTF simply dropping the matter.

The Education Focus Group of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP will continue to monitor the developments under the PSFA and will provide further updates as new information is available.


1.CUPE Media Release, "CUPE announces tentative agreement for 55,000 Ontario school support workers" (December 30, 2012), online:

2 CBC News, "Ontario imposes contracts on public school teachers" (January 3, 2013), online:

3 Ibid., and Louise Brown, Richard J. Brennan and Rob Ferguson, "Ontario Teacher Dispute: Turmoil far from over as Education minister Laurel Broten imposes contracts", The Toronto Star (January 3, 2013), online:

4 Rob Ferguson, Richard J. Brennan, and Louise Brown "Laurel Broten imposes contracts on Ontario public school teachers", The Toronto Star (January 3, 2013), online:

5 Ibid.

6 Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario Media Release, "Government uses Flawed Legislation to Trample Rights of Working Ontarians" (January 3, 2013), online:

About BLG

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions