Thursday, March 24, 2016

Liz Sandals grilled over $300M cost to set up benefits trusts for teachers, school staff

Education Minister Liz Sandals, left, acknowledged it will take time to reap the rewards of
consolidating the plans for life, health and dental benefits run jointly by school boards and
various education unions.
Education Minister Liz Sandals was under fire Wednesday over $300 million to set up benefits trusts for teachers and school staff after promising their new contracts wouldn’t cost taxpayers an extra dime.

“It’s another example of this government not being honest with Ontarians,” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said after Sandals insisted the money will cut benefits costs by consolidating about 1,000 such plans at school boards across the province into five.

The $300 million has nothing to do with wages to teachers and other unionized education workers, Sandals said.

She maintained her promise that contracts would be “net zero” in terms of additional costs to taxpayers but insisted that did not include such administrative expenses.

“This isn’t about a compensation cost, this is an investment in creating something different which over the long term will save us money, but it does require an up-front investment,” Sandals said.

“This really is a long-term project, which is why the start-up costs are so high.”

Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton) accused Sandals of having a “credibility” problem.

She slammed “the audacity of the minister today to claim it is still a net zero when we know $300 million went into these secret payouts and benefit plans rather than into kids in the classroom.”

MacLeod said she is awaiting an examination of the expenses by auditor general Bonnie Lysyk.  (more...)


Must we continue on this path?

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