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University and College News from across Ontario.

Ontario universities say changes to teacher education will diminish quality for students

TORONTO, June 5, 2013 /CNW/ – Ontario universities recognize that changes in the labour market have led to a reduction in publicly funded spaces for teacher education students, but are warning that further cuts to government funding will compromise the quality of teacher education in the province.

The province’s new curriculum is designed to prepare better teacher candidates for the complex challenges they face in classrooms. But the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) calculates that for the same number of students, the province will be providing one-third less funding.

COU is looking to the province, on behalf of students, to ensure that the quality of teacher education can be maintained at the levels currently available, especially because students will now have to pay tuition for an additional year.

The government’s announced directions include a lengthening of the teacher education program and a reduction in the number of graduates. The government has also informed universities that funding for these programs will be significantly reduced.

“A further reduction in operating grants, on top of previously announced government cuts, will diminish – not enhance – the experience for students in our teacher education programs,” says Alastair Summerlee, COU Chair and President of the University of Guelph.

“Reducing government funding for teacher education when Ontario universities are providing top-notch education, despite the country’s lowest rate of per student funding, disadvantages students and threatens quality,” says COU President and CEO Bonnie M. Patterson.

“Ontario universities are already doing more for students with less money than universities in any other province,” Patterson says. “Universities will find it hard to continue to maintain the quality our educators-in-training have traditionally enjoyed.”

Ontario’s teachers are some of the best trained in the country, and many of them use the skills they learn in university education programs to teach in other jurisdictions or outside of the traditional classroom.

COU also seeks a balanced approach to any oversupply of teachers. The labour market shift will not be solved without similar government action to control enrolment offered by out-of-province providers within Ontario. The province needs to limit access for students from these institutions who are seeking the practical part of their education in Ontario.

Quick Facts:
• Tuition is a critical source of revenue for universities, representing on average 44 per cent of operating revenue.
• The Ontario government cut tuition revenue in March by announcing a tuition cap, moving from an average of five per cent to three per cent.
• Reductions to operating grants for teacher education represent a 33 per cent cut in funding for the same number of students.
• Operating grants for student programs will be reduced by $40 million in 2013-14, and by nearly $80 million the following year.
• Ontario universities receive the lowest grant funding per student in Canada.

COU is a membership organization of 21 publicly assisted universities in Ontario. It works closely with the provincial and federal governments to shape public policies that help universities deliver high-quality programs for students, and the research and innovation that improves the social, cultural and economic well-being of Ontarians.

SOURCE: Council of Ontario Universities
For further information:
Wendy McCann
Director, Strategic Communications and Media Relations
Telephone: 416-979-2165 extension 233
Cellphone: 647-271-0825
Email Wendy McCann

Ministry of Education News Release: Giving New Teachers the Tools for Success

News Release



Giving New Teachers the Tools for Success

Ontario Enhancing Teacher Education, Supporting Greater Student Achievement

Ministry of Education

Ontario is modernizing teacher education to help new teachers get jobs and provide students with the best possible education.

Working in partnership with the Ontario College of Teachers, the province plans to double the time students spend in teacher’s college starting in September 2015. The enhanced program will extend learning time from two semesters to four semesters and give future teachers more practical experience by increasing classroom placements from a minimum of 40 days to a minimum of 80 days.

The curriculum for teacher education will also be enhanced and updated to provide new teachers with additional expertise in tailoring teaching methods to diverse student needs and working with students who have mental health and addictions issues.

In addition to expanding the length of teacher’s college, admissions will be reduced by 50 per cent starting in 2015. This will help address an oversupply of graduates, enabling Ontario’s qualified teachers to find jobs.

Helping new teachers succeed is part of the new Ontario government’s plan to build a prosperous and fair society.

Quick Facts

  • Over the past nine years, Ontario teachers have helped increase student graduation rates and test scores, while building Ontario’s international reputation as a leader in education.
  • Ontario will be working with universities individually and as a working group to implement the new program.
  • The program will also be updated to incorporate technology in the classroom such as electronic whiteboards and e-readers.
  • About 9,000 teachers per year have been graduating in Ontario despite the fact that only about 6,000 teachers are needed annually.


Liz Sandals

We want to give our students the best education possible. By modernizing our teacher education program, we will better prepare new teachers for the needs of the modern classroom and help provide greater opportunities to find work after they graduate.”

Liz Sandals

Minister of Education

Brad Duguid

Making teacher education top-notch will help better educate Ontario kids to succeed. It will prepare a well-educated workforce to meet the needs of a modern economy.”

Brad Duguid

Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities

Laurel Broten and Eric Hoskins dropped from major portfolios in Wynne’s cabinet shuffle.

Aside from the Ontario Liberals quitting or refusing cabinet positions, before the new Liberal Premier Katherine took office, Wynne announced today that Deb Matthews, remains Minister of Health and Long -Term Care, Wynne also dumps Dr. Eric Hoskins in favor of back bencher Teresa Piruzza as Minister of Children & Youth Services and also brings back bencher Liz Sandals, stripping the now demoted Laurel Broten as Ontario’s Minister of Education.

Lets hope the new Premier, responds to thousands of calls for reform and begins to implement sweeping changes to the MUSH sector.

Join us at our Second Annual Liberal Convention Oversight Rally

Because we need the support of every political party to ensure oversight of the CAS, Long-Term Care, Hospitals etc., we are holding our Second Annual Liberal Convention Rally this Saturday January 26 at 9:00 AM. Last years rally outside the Liberal Convention was a huge success and began to draw support from within their party and it’s members. This years Liberal Convention is being held in Toronto and we need your help to continue pressuring elected officials and the people who run the Liberal party to support our Ombudsman Bills when they get reintroduced.

Facebook Event Page
Date: Jan 26
Time: 9:00 AM
Where: Maple Leaf Gardens, 60 Carlton Street, Toronto

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Educators Debate Academic Merits of Free Online Courses

As millions flirt with free college-level courses online, educators are still debating their academic merits.

Elite schools allow their professors to offer courses on Coursera, Udacity and edX, but so far, most aren’t willing to award students credit for those classes, which suggest that they’re not fully endorsing the pedagogy quite yet.

While the most sophisticated MOOCs—massive open online courses—go beyond a video lecture, some academics still question the quality of additional content such as quizzes and group discussions.

MOOC homework assignments are often different from those required in their classroom counterparts. For example, exams may require less analytical thinking—and some users say their online classmates lack the knowledge to contribute meaningfully to conversations. Using a peer-review model to grade essays, as Coursera has done, exposes similar issues.

And only a fraction of students—under 10% in most classes—makes it all the way through those massive online courses. That’s proof, some say, that MOOCs aren’t acceptable replacements for traditional classes.

“There’s a huge disconnect between the massive enthusiasm…and evidence of serious students who actually complete these courses,” said Carol Geary Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

For their part, MOOC providers say that many students pick and choose lessons that interest them, and never have the intention of working all the way through the multiweek courses. However, they say they are trying to improve retention rates. That’s important not just for their reputations but also for their proposed revenue plans, as many are banking on selling certificates of completion or earning money by matching successful students with employers.

Ms. Schneider—who took a Princeton University world history class through Coursera—said the most likely path for MOOCs is probably to establish them as general education classes at community colleges and other broad-access universities. But that is also the most dangerous, in her opinion because that would target a population best helped by small, personalized classes. “If you go down that path, it will be in complete defiance of everything we know about helping vulnerable students persist and succeed in college,” she said.

In November, edX announced a partnership with the Gates Foundation linking students at Massachusetts-based Bunker Hill and MassBay community colleges with courses taught by faculty from nearby Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Students at those community colleges will be able to earn credit by enrolling in certain classes that are taught via MOOCs, and supplemented with classroom instruction.

Administrators at some big schools are warming to MOOCs as a way to complement traditional instruction. One experiment underway at San Jose State University could help prove MOOCs’ value in augmenting classroom lessons, said Ping Hsu, interim dean at the university’s College of Engineering.

This fall, students in its Circuits course—which 40% of students usually have to retake—were assigned lectures from edX’s course on the same topic, taught by an MIT professor. In-person meetings were spent doing lab projects, a switch that educators call “flipping the classroom.”

On the first big test, the 84 San Jose State students beat last year’s average score. The class averaged a correct-answer rate of 70% on a midterm this fall well above the typical 50% score from years past.

Write to Melissa Korn at [email protected] and Jennifer Levitz at [email protected]

Ontario Regulations Coming into Force on January 1, 2013

Ontario Regulations Coming into Force on January 1, 2013

December 31, 2012 9:00 am
Office of the Premier

24. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is amending a regulation under the Nursing Act to change the registration requirements for nurses and applicants. It would require members to declare, on an annual basis, whether they were engaged in the practice of the profession at any point in the previous three years. Nurse practitioners would also have to declare whether they had clinical practice experience in that time period.

25. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is seeking approvals to amend a regulation under the Health Insurance Act to make physician and lab services fee changes resulting from the new Ontario Medical Association Agreement. Upon filing, some of the fee changes would be retroactive to January 1, 2013.

36. The Ministry of the Attorney General has provided for changes to a regulation under the Courts of Justice Act. It requires the completion of a mandatory settlement conference before the clerk may dismiss an action as abandoned. A settlement conference is a meeting between a deputy judge or Small Claims Court judge and the parties to an action to help resolve the dispute faster and assist the parties with preparation for trial.

45. The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities is introducing a new regulation under the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act that sets out how potential members may apply to be registered with the college. This change will also create two new classes of membership — journeyperson candidates and tradespersons — for the Ontario College of Trades.

49. The Office of Francophone Affairs is amending a regulation under the French Language Services Act that will designate public service agencies such as community health centres and social service agencies as agencies that provide services in French. These organizations asked to be designated as agencies that provide services in French.

50. The Ontario Seniors’ Secretariat is amending a regulation under the Retirement Homes Act to maintain the exclusion of domiciliary hostels and emergency hostels from the definition of a “retirement home” under new Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative.

51. The Ontario Seniors’ Secretariat is enacting part of a regulation under the Retirement Homes Act to update requirements related to care standards, safety plans, assessment and care plans for new residents and staff training.

Full details:

Ontario Ombudsman – Top 10 of 2012


In 2012, Ontarians were focused on health – health care, Ombudsman oversight of hospitals and long-term care homes, the mental health of our police forces, and healthy and transparent municipal democracies. Our office saw this reflected in the complaints we received, and the investigations we launched – including the most recent, into the province’s services for adults with developmental disabilities – as well as in the comments from our followers on Twitter and Facebook.
Take a look at 10 of the most significant developments of 2012. Thanks to our social media followers for helping out with the list.

Top 10 for 2012

1.    MUSH closer “…it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when” – Premier Dalton McGuinty, June 2012
Every year, the Ontario Ombudsman’s office receives hundreds of complaints from the MUSH sector – which includes Municipalities, Universities, School Boards, Hospitals, long-term care homes, children’s aid societies and police – and every year, Ombudsman André Marin is forced to turn them away. But this past spring, things took a turn for the better when Premier Dalton McGuinty spoke to the Ombudsman on the expansion of the Ombudsman’s powers. The Ombudsman has said he would like to see Children’s Aid Societies, hospitals and long-term care homes as the first ‘letters’ to be brought under his jurisdiction.

2.    Police oversight strengthened The Ombudsman’s 2011 report on oversight of the Ontario Special Investigations Unit, “Oversight Undermined” – as well as his 2008 report on the same issue, “Oversight Unseen” – recommended that, among other things, lawyers for police officers should not represent more than one witness officer on the same case. In late November, the Law Society of Upper Canada put lawyers on notice that it questioned how officers, who are supposed to be segregated in these cases, could ever be jointly represented – proving the Ombudsman’s 2008 and 2011 recommendations, which called for a ‘legislative prohibition against legal counsel representing police officers involved in the same incident under investigation by the SIU’, prescient indeed.

3.    Public call for better support for OPP operational stress injuries In late October, the Ombudsman released a report calling on the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to take concrete action to support police officers across the province who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, risk of suicide and other forms of operational stress injuries. His report, In the Line of Duty ’ – and his finding that the chances of an OPP officer committing suicide were higher than the chances of being killed on-duty by an unknown assailant – made headlines across the country and even caught the attention of police organizations as far away as the United States and Germany. In contrast to the strong public support that greeted the report, the OPP was disappointingly fence-sitting and defensive in their response. The Ombudsman will vigorously monitor to ensure that there is proper leadership in the senior echelons of the OPP dealing with the mental health of its officers, and has asked the OPP and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to report back on January 24, 2013 to update him on their progress.

4.    New investigations In 2012, the Ombudsman announced two new investigations – one in March, into the province’s monitoring of hypoglycemic drivers, and another in late November, into the province’s services for adults with developmental disabilities in crisis. In both cases, complaints began flooding in after the announcement, and there was a strong social media response with comments indicating people feel these investigations were desperately needed. The Special Ombudsman Response Team is currently completing fieldwork for both investigations.

5.    Breaking a few eggs for a good OMLET Municipal councils were in the spotlight in October when the Ombudsman released his first-ever annual report on investigations into closed municipal meetings. The Ombudsman found that some municipalities are still ‘shockingly secretive, suspicious and resentful of the very idea they can be investigated’. One such municipality, the City of Greater Sudbury, had the dubious distinction of being the least-co-operative municipality in the history of the office’s municipal dealings. However, their invitation for a public presentation by the Ombudsman in early December indicates they may be open to turning a corner.

6.    Access to justice: Complaints up by almost 30% In his 2011-2012 Annual Report, the Ombudsman called on the government of Ontario to protect the public interest by ensuring citizens continue to have the opportunity to complain to his office – as more than 18,500 of them did in 2011-2012. The office saw a 27% increase in complaints and inquiries, and through the dedicated efforts of Ombudsman staff, has been able to help Ontarians navigate the government bureaucracy. The office has also flagged systemic issues before they mushroomed, and served as a catalyst for better communication, improved policies, and more common sense and compassion in public administration.

7.    Tech and innovation at OO This year saw a number of firsts for the Ombudsman’s office – including the first #OOLive Twitter chat, the first remote live webcast of an Ombudsman presentation, and the first Skype presentations – to attendees of a conference in Australia! The Ombudsman’s strong social media presence – including on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube – helped ramp up public engagement and reach more people than ever before – in fact, the Ombudsman is on track to reach 10,000 Twitter followers by the new year. The Ombudsman continues to call on government to embrace openness and transparency, and use technology to improve service and interaction with the public – as well as meet with other ombudsman organizations to coach them on the benefits of social media.

8.    Sharpening teeth worldwide Created in 2007 to share the Ontario Ombudsman’s investigative expertise, the advanced Sharpening Your Teeth training course offers ombudsmen and investigative staff from around the world the opportunity to learn more about how the office conducts its large-scale, systemic investigations – on a complete cost-recovery basis. In the past five years, it’s been delivered in dozens of countries on six continents. This past November, the Ombudsman offered the course at the International Ombudsman Institute’s 10th World Conference in New Zealand, and it was also delivered in Montreal, Iowa, and Curacao, and will be presented to a sold-out crowd in Toronto in January.

9.    For a good cause Ontario Ombudsman and staff participated in the office’s first-ever Movember fundraiser in November, bringing in more than $6,100 for research and awareness about prostate cancer and male mental health initiatives. The team garnered honourable mentions in the Ottawa Citizen and on the CityTV website. And in September, the Ombudsman Watchdogs ran in the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s Run for the Cure, raising $4,877 to support breast cancer research, and the office raised more than $5,400 to support United Way Toronto and Federated Health Charities.

10.     Ombudsman honoured for public service This year, the Ombudsman’s commitment to public service was recognized in Canada and internationally. He was inducted into the University of Ottawa Faculty of Common Law’s Common Law Honour Society; received the Canadian Bar Association’s John Tait Award of Excellence; was presented with the Ontario Bar Association’s 2012 Award for Distinguished Service; and was honoured for police oversight work by the U.S.-based National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement.
“I was pleased to learn that the University of Ottawa has inducted you into its Common Law Honour Society – the second honour you have received from your alma mater, having been awarded the Ordre du mérite from the University’s civil law section in 2011. Your dedication to serving the interests of the Canadian public has also been recognized by the Canadian Bar Association in being named the 2012 recipient of the John Tait Award of Excellence in the area of public law. Your tenacity and commitment are the gauge for exemplary professional service.” -The Honourable Rob Nicholson, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada


The Autism Project: York University students with Asperger’s thrive in mentorship

Maze-like campuses, 500-seat lecture halls and life in residence. Hormones and parties. Alcohol and drugs. Sex.

Going to college or university is a big step for any young adult, let alone someone with autism.

Last year, more than 800 students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) registered for support at Ontario colleges and universities — a number expected to grow as more children are diagnosed and treated earlier.

Most campuses are ill-prepared to serve this new population of often bright, but socially impaired students.

York University has taken an innovative approach with its Asperger mentorship program, which is winning praise from both students and experts.

The program is the brainchild of psychology professor James Bebko, who came up with the idea five years ago while helping the university’s disability office set up peer support for students with Asperger syndrome, a relatively mild form of autism.

Bebko, who has worked with children, adolescents and families affected by autism for 25 years, knows these students need more than just academic support to be successful at university. He thought his graduate students could help.

The program, which pairs psychology students with “Aspie” undergrads, is a win-win proposition. It gives his students practical experience in their field, while helping students with Asperger’s successfully navigate university life.

The ultimate goal is to ensure the dropout rate for students with autism is no higher than average. On that score alone, the program is a success, says Bebko, former director of York’s clinical-developmental psychology program.

“The mentors work with the students on all areas of concern, but the focus tends to be on the social and personal aspects of university.”

In high school, most students with autism are in highly structured programs with very engaged parents monitoring their every move. But in university, there is an increased expectation of independence. This is where students with Asperger’s often get into trouble.

“We have women putting themselves in risky sexual situations without the skills to cope,” he says. “For some students, it’s a challenge just to go to a coffee shop on campus. The needs are so broad and varied.”

Participants usually meet weekly with their mentor one-on-one and once a month as a group for dinner, plays or other activities.

The program has been funded since 2009 by the Counselling Foundation of Canada, which is providing a $224,000 four-year grant. It has served about 50 students since its inception, with 18 to 20 students matched with mentors each year.

Three students have graduated, some have switched universities for other academic programs, but most are still at York, a sign that the program is making a difference.

Bebko hopes a new manual he has written will be a guide for other institutions to follow.

Evguenia Ignatova, 21, joined the program three years ago when she began a degree in psychology. The Russian immigrant, who came to Toronto with her family when she was 4, says her mentor has helped her navigate university bureaucracy, compose emails and handle telephone calls.

“I find sometimes I call places and they don’t give me the right answers,” she says.

When Ignatova was feeling misunderstood by her boyfriend’s mother, she asked her mentor for advice on how to set the record straight.

“My mentor has helped me with emotional difficulties and personal problems,” she says. “Just talking about it has helped. It means I don’t have to burden my friends and acquaintances.”

Ignatova says her biggest challenge at university is communicating with her professors and dealing with anxiety.

“Sometimes when I ask questions, I do not get answers that are clear enough to understand and I worry that if I ask too many questions, the professors will find me annoying,” she says.

“In the past, I struggled with anxiety and depression due to the workload and the isolation that I imposed on myself as a result of my perfectionism about school work,” she says. “Having a mentor has really helped.”

York psychology
PhD student Stephanie Brown has been a mentor for three years and also serves as the program’s co-ordinator.

Students have asked her advice on how to talk to professors, disclose their disability to others, and navigate friendships and romantic relationships.

“Sometimes the mentor may be more aware of a problem than the student,” she says. “You might notice the student has four agendas — one for each class — and suggest they might want to consolidate that into one.

“A highly academic student might say they have no concerns, but you notice they have two papers and an exam coming up for which they aren’t studying. Or they may tell you they have spent 14 hours on one paper and you notice they have been ignoring their other subjects,” she says.

On the personal side, Brown has counselled students on how to talk to strangers and stay safe.

She has cautioned female students against getting into a car alone with a stranger. And she has advised male students not to tell women they don’t know that they think their clothing is “really sexy.”

Mentors often meet students in small groups to practise conversation techniques, including how to ask questions that are appropriate and not too personal.

“One of our goals is to create a peer network for the students,” says Brown, 26. “We are mentors and facilitators. But we are not their friends.”

Working with the students has made Brown passionate about them and the program.

“Many individuals with ASD have wonderful strengths and skills,” she says. “They have worked very hard to get here and we should be doing everything we can to help them succeed.”


Source Article from–the-autism-project-york-university-students-with-asperger-s-thrive-in-mentorship-program

Western Canadian universities come out on top: Maclean’s rankings – Toronto Sun

Simon Fraser University

Aerial photo of the Burnaby, B.C. campus of Simon Fraser University. (Wikimedia Commons/Soggybread/HO)


Universities in Western Canada are among the best schools in the country, according to Maclean’s magazine’s annual post secondary rankings released Thursday.

British Columbia’s Simon Fraser University takes the top spot, same as last year, in the comprehensive category — for schools that have a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs — followed by the University of Victoria in second place, and Ontario’s University of Waterloo in third.

The magazine ranked universities across the country in three categories: comprehensive; medical doctor, for schools that have a solid selection of PhD programs and have medical schools; and primarily undergraduate, for institutions that tend to be smaller and have a wide selection of undergrad programs.

In the medical doctor category, Montreal’s McGill University takes the cake and the University of British Columbia lands in the second spot.

University of Toronto has long dominated the rankings, however it dropped from second to third this year.

As for the undergraduate list, Mount Allison in Sackville, N.B., is first — for the 16th year in a row — University of Northern British Columbia second, and Alberta’s University of Lethbridge in third.
Source Article from

Ontario Proposes Compensation Restraint

Ontario is planning to introduce and consult on draft legislation that, if passed, would restrain compensation for employees of the Broader Public Sector (BPS), as well as all executives and managers across the BPS and Ontario Public Service (OPS).  If passed, the proposed Protecting Public Services Act would ensure future BPS collective agreements are consistent with the province’s goals of eliminating the deficit and protecting the delivery of public services.

The Protecting Public Services Act would, if passed:

  • Restrain compensation for two years for unionized employees of the BPS and require employers to negotiate agreements that do not reduce services.
  • Freeze earnings for two years for managers who are eligible for performance pay in the BPS, OPS and agencies so they would not earn more this year and next than they did last year.
  • Introduce a permanent salary cap for new executives at no more than double the Premier’s salary.

The draft legislation also contains changes to ensure that the interestarbitration process is transparent, accountable and efficient. These proposed amendments were previously included in the 2012 Budget Bill.

If passed, the draft legislation would apply its compensation restraint measures upon proclamation, but not to existing collective agreements. It would respect the bargaining process for future collective agreements while ensuring that those agreements are subject to review and approval until the provincial budget is balanced.

All parties in the broader public sector would be encouraged to engage in a full collective bargaining process and employers would confirm whether resulting agreements meet the province’s fiscal goals without reducing services.

When the Finance Minister or delegate determines that collective agreements do not meet these goals, parties would be given another opportunity to collectively bargain.  After consultation, a collective agreement consistent with the government’s goals may be set by the government.

The McGuinty government is taking strong action to achieve its fiscal targets by reducing costs while protecting front-line services. This announcement builds on the strong action already taken through thePutting Students First Act, 2012 and other measures outlined in the 2012 Budget, such as a five-year wage freeze for MPPs and pay restraint measures for executives at Ontario’s hospitals, colleges, universities, school boards and agencies for four years.


This proposed draft legislation would cover 2,295 collective agreements covering approximately 481,000 Ontario public sector workers.

Compensation costs account for the majority of Ontario-funded program spending, either paid directly through the OPS or as part of the government’s transfer payments to hospitals, universities and other public sector partners.

Legislation would apply to the Ontario Public Service, agencies and the broader public sector including hospitals, other health sector employers, universities, colleges, hydro entities and not-for-profit entities that receive at least $1 million in government funding.

School boards (including the Provincial Schools Authority) and employers in the municipal sector – other than municipal long-term care homes and public health units –would be exempt from the compensation measures regarding collective bargaining introduced for the Broader Public Sector.

The 2012 Budget extended the pay freeze for MPPs by a further two years — for a total of five years.

Source Article from