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Ministers questions Nova Scotia teachers' training trips during work-to-rule

Education minister questions teachers' trips

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia's education minister is wondering why teachers have continued to travel to professional development conferences despite their work-to-rule job action.

Karen Casey was reacting to a CBC report that 11 teachers attended a conference in Hawaii last week after getting permission from the Nova Scotia Teachers Union.

Casey says since work-to-rule began Dec. 5, events and activities have been constrained by a strict edict that stipulates teachers should only report for work 20 minutes before class starts and leave 20 minutes after the school day ends.

She questions whether there is a double standard at play, and said she doesn't know how the union can defend the trips, which she confirms were approved prior to the Dec. 5 job action.

"I'm just wondering why the union would not tell the teachers that as of Dec. 5, even though it was planned before, it's cancelled," said Casey in an interview Thursday.

"The answer we got initially (from the union) was, 'Well it was planned before Dec. 5.' My point is, so were many, many of these hockey tournaments and other sports events and trips. They were planned for and many of them paid for by students and parents before Dec. 5.

"I just don't buy that rationale."

The Education Department says the province provides approximately $6.4 million in funding per year for professional development for teachers.

It says teachers can be reimbursed for courses taken for the purpose of upgrading their professional qualifications or improving classroom effectiveness, and are subject to the budget established by the professional development committee.

Contract negotiations were continuing Thursday, although Casey says the sides would have to decide whether to keep talking or set some new dates for further discussions.

The union did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.

The Canadian Press