Ontario government says willing to negotiate with unions to avoid strike

Ontario’s Education Minister Stephen Lecce said today that the government remains open to negotiations with unions representing 55,000 education support staff to avoid a strike scheduled for November 21.

The Civil Servants Union of Canada (CUPE) notified the government of a five-day strike on November 16 after labor agreement negotiations broke down. A two-week strike lasted two days before the government promised to repeal anti-strike laws if unions returned to contract negotiations.

Most of the state’s 4,800 schools will close for the second time this month due to workers’ strikes, including librarians, teaching assistants, janitors and other support staff.

and interview Regarding CP24, Lecce said the union needs to stay at the negotiating table and work with the government to “get arrangements that keep children in classes”.

Lecce said the government has been hearing from parents about their children’s mental and physical health and about “regression in children’s basic literacy and social skills and development.”

“Strikes against children should not be normalized. “I really want to put the emphasis on the kids, because until today it was all about the desire for higher wages.”

CUPE says there is a general agreement on wages for educational workers, with the government offering a 3.59% wage increase each year on new four-year contracts, but the union said Lecce said the new demands is.

“Until two days ago, wages were everything. Wages were the only issue…the union wanted a significant increase in basic wages,” said Lecce.

In addition to wage increases, CUPE is also seeking an increase in the number of educational assistants and other educational workers, as well as additional support staff.


Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario, told CP24 that there was no need for a “crisis” from the strike.

“There are resources available. [provincial] If there is money left over, there are ways for the government to make these investments and support schools that actually help children. And that’s now the focus of our negotiations,” he said on November 17.

CUPE spokesperson Laura Walton told reporters on November 16: This is what Prime Ministers and Ministers want you to believe – this is about money in our hands. “

She said the government refuses to “invest in services that students need and parents expect.”

According to Lecce, the government has employed more than 7,000 educators since Doug Ford’s party came to power in 2018. In September, the state added $680 million in additional funding for public education. Lecce said the government promised to fund 1,800 educators in contract negotiations.

“The union said the law had to be repealed to take the strike off the agenda,” Lecce said. The government he withdrew Bill 28 on November 14th.

“Two days later, families are being notified of a five-day strike that will bring hardship to two million children. They’ve been through a lot and they deserve to be in the class,” said Lecce.

The government said it would continue to remain at the negotiating table and work with mediators, Said Schools implementing contingency plans in the event of a strike.

Marnie Cathcart


Marnie Cathcart is a reporter based in Edmonton.