NEWS
04/20/2015 09:53 EDT | Updated 06/20/2015 01:12 EDT

High school strike hits Durham Region while central negotiations resume

TORONTO - Central negotiations have resumed between Ontario high school teachers and the government, but classes are still cancelled for about 24,000 students east of Toronto today.Talks at the local level with the Durham District School Board broke down over the weekend ahead of their legal strike date today, leaving schools in that region closed.This is the first round of negotiations since the province brought in a new bargaining system, with both local and provincial talks.The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation announced last week that it had walked away from the provincial talks, but the education minister says those have now resumed.Education Minister Liz Sandals says she's disappointed about the strike and is encouraging the union to head back to the local table.Meanwhile, the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario has asked for a "no board report," signalling that talks with the province are at an impasse, which will put the union in a legal strike position 17 days after the report is issued.Three years ago the Liberal government legislated contracts and wage freezes on the teachers, angering the unions.The relationship has since slowly improved but unhappiness is brewing once again as the Liberals try to eliminate a $10.9-billion budget deficit through measures that include "net zero" increases in contract negotiations, though the unions say there are outstanding issues other than wages.