TORONTO - Public hearings on the Liberal government's legislation to impose a contract on Ontario teachers will begin this afternoon.

The Progressive Conservatives supported a Liberal motion to end debate on the bill, clearing the way for the brief public hearings, which will wrap up Thursday.

The bill imposes a two-year wage freeze on veteran teachers while allowing younger ones to still move up the salary grid, and mandates three unpaid days off in the second year of the contract.

It's based on an agreement the Liberal government reached with English Catholic teachers that was also accepted by Francophone teachers, but has been flatly rejected by the two biggest unions representing elementary and high school teachers.

The Tories complain the bill doesn't actually impose a true wage freeze on teachers, but promise to support the minority government to ensure it passes into law.

The Liberals say they need all 1.3 million workers in Ontario's public sector to accept a two-year wage freeze to eliminate a $15-billion deficit.