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Teacher unions welcome new minister in Ontario cabinet shuffle

Written by on June 7, 2024

TORONTO — Ontario’s major teachers’ unions are welcoming a change in education ministers in a cabinet shuffle, saying they hope it signals a new path forward with Premier Doug Ford’s government.

Stephen Lecce served as education minister since 2019, through two rounds of collective bargaining with teachers and education workers, and now becomes minister of energy and electrification, as part of a cabinet shuffle Ford announced Thursday.

Lecce swaps portfolios with Todd Smith, who has held several cabinet portfolios including energy, and before that spent seven years on the opposition benches, representing the eastern Ontario riding currently known as Bay of Quinte.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario says it stands ready to work with Smith after six years of what it characterizes as “being misled, dismissed and undervalued by Minister Lecce.”

Karen Littlewood, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, says the education file is a really tough one, but she is hopeful that Smith will be more open to formal meetings with her.

Smith will not have to face the daunting task of contract negotiations, with deals secured under Lecce’s leadership that will extend past the next election, but the unions say schools, teachers and students need greater levels of funding and supports.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2024.

The Canadian Press