The Ontario government will introduce new retirement regulations meant to clear the path for new teachers to land jobs, the province’s education minister said.

Laurel Broten announced the new measures at a press conference Monday, saying the new steps will result in more retirement applications and fewer retired teachers returning on a substitute basis.

“Young teachers are the fuel that keeps the engine of our education system running, constantly learning, adapting and improving every step of the way,” Broten told reporters.

“Their energy, enthusiasm and fresh perspectives are exactly what our schools and students need in order to succeed. Our government recognizes that.”

Broten said the new hiring practices are part of deals signed with two Ontario teachers’ unions and include:

  • limiting retired teachers to 50 supply teaching days per year, down from 95
  • a restructured sick leave plan that provides income protection from the start of a career
  • a 1.5 per cent pay cut for all teachers, which Broten says will give young teachers a chance at salary increases
  • protection for 10,000 teaching positions.

Broten said the new hiring practices would be applied in every school board across the province.

Teachers at an elementary public teachers’ conference held in Toronto said that it is difficult for young teachers to get the experience they need.

“I’m sympathetic with the younger teachers, because it’s not easy breaking into teaching right now,” said teacher Mike Phillips.

Young teacher Kyle Creelman said his French-language training has given him an advantage that many others lack.

“That really helped me. It seems you need some sort of edge,” Creelman said.

The new measures were announced amid heightened tension between the Ontario Liberals and teachers, as the government pushes for new contracts that would avoid increasing salaries amid tough economic times.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath told The Canadian Press this announcement is further proof that the Liberal government is trying to manufacture a crisis, which would allow it to win a majority government.

"They're willing to blow the financial brains out of this province for the purposes of making some political wins in advance of two byelections that are coming in September," Horwath told The Canadian Press.

"I think that's unacceptable and I think that's a high risk game that the taxpayers are going to end up paying for."

The Liberals have threatened to recall the legislature if Ontario school boards and teachers did not agree to a new deal before the school year begins in September.

If a new deal is not reached, the current contract would automatically be extended and teachers would receive a raise of up to 5.5 per cent.

The salary increase would come as the government attempts the cut public spending in the face of a $15-billion deficit this year.

Premier Dalton McGuinty says he would recall the legislature to impose new contracts if the school boards and teachers’ unions did not sign a new contract avoiding salary increases.

It’s not an option that Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers Federation, is willing to accept.

“Shame one you, premier,” Hammond told teachers in a speech Monday at the conference. “To accept the government cuts means to accept that our life’s work is devalued.”

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers (OECTA) and the Association des Enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO), the latter which represents francophone teachers, have already agreed to new deals.

With files from CTV Toronto’s Natalie Johnson