Liberal MPP calls for firing of Ontario education minister as teacher job action escalates
Ontario's minister of education Stephen Lecce speaks during a press conference to announce a tentative deal reached with CUPE in Toronto, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
TORONTO -- Liberal MPP Michael Coteau is calling on Premier Doug Ford to fire Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce as tensions with Ontario teachers continue to bubble and unions accuse the government of muddying the waters.
Coteau, currently a second-place candidate in the Ontario Liberal leadership race, will hold a news conference Monday — just as several unions ramp up their job action amid a contract dispute.
The province’s public elementary teachers will stop supervising extra-curricular activities and field trips and are threatening to launch rotating strikes if a deal cannot be reached by Jan. 17.
Catholic teachers, from kindergarten to Grade 12, are launching a work-to-rule campaign Monday and have not ruled out escalating to a full strike.
On Wednesday, public high school teachers are set to hold their fifth one-day walkout, affecting select school boards, while continuing their work-to-rule campaign.
Meanwhile teachers in French-language schools will launch job action this week as well.
The effect of the work-to-rule campaigns will also be felt inside the classroom this week as school boards across the province were forced to cancel the Grade 9 standardized math test, scheduled to be administered on Monday.
Coteau is scheduled to speak outside a downtown Catholic school and is expected call on Premier Ford to shuffle his cabinet and replace Lecce, in an effort to change the tone of the negotiations.
Lecce was appointed as Education Minister during a cabinet shuffle in June, taking over from Lisa Thompson who struggled to find her footing in the role.
The request to fire Lecce, however, is likely to fall flat because Ford often speaks highly of his rookie minister and publicly praises his communication skills.
“I’m so proud of Minister Lecce,” Ford told CP24 last week. “He is just an incredible person, just an incredible communicator.”
“He’s doing a great job,” Ford said.