More GTA boards say they will close schools if CUPE strike goes forward
Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Friday, October 4, 2019 5:29AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, October 5, 2019 3:19PM EDT
Schools in Durham and Halton are now among a growing number of GTA schools that will close if education workers go on strike on Monday.
The Durham District School Board, the Durham Catholic District School Board, and the Halton Catholic District School Board confirmed Friday that they would not be able to safely operate if the 55,000 members represented by The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) withdraw their services next week.
The news comes one day after both the Catholic and public school boards in Toronto, as well as the Peel Region District School Board, the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, and the Catholic and public boards in York Region all confirmed they would shutter schools if education workers walk off the job.
The Halton District School Board said the only CUPE members it employs are custodians and as a result, schools will be open on Monday if a strike goes ahead.
CUPE announced earlier this week that it would escalate its work-to-rule campaign to a full strike if a deal could not be reached this weekend.
CUPE and the province are back at the negotiation table today and contract talks are expected to continue this weekend.
"The talks are aimed at ending the work-to-rule job action by 55,000 education workers, who are set to strike on Monday, October 7, if no deal can be reached before then," the union said in a statement on Friday evening.
"The parties have agreed to a media blackout for the duration of negotiations in order to focus on reaching a settlement."
The union said Thursday that there are several major issues outstanding, including issues regarding sick leave and recent cuts to funding.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce told CP24 Thursday that he felt the province got “so close” to reaching a deal last Sunday, and he doesn’t understand how the labour disruption escalated so quickly.
In the event of a strike on Monday, Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins warned that disruptions are possible on GO Transit.
"Metrolinx is planning ahead to ensure business as usual, however, there is always a potential for cancellations, especially with GO Transit (buses)," she wrote in a tweet published Friday.
She noted that of the thousands of people who are employed by GO Transit, many have young children.