Nov 04, 2022

By Christine Ross

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Ontario is seeking to have a walkout by education workers declared illegal by the Ontario Labour Relations Board and actions by union leaders declared unlawful.

“We hope to hear back today, or tomorrow potentially on the findings,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce. “In the meantime, we’re going to be using all the pressures and frankly all the levers of the legislation to get kids back to school and we’ve set out a clear expectation to our school boards to use every power and every authority to open as many schools for as many kids as humanly possible.”

Minister Lecce says his government is not backing down as protests continue outside his King City office and a number of other locations including a large gathering at Queen’s Park where CUPE Ontario president Fred Hahn spoke.

“They’re fighting for every worker in the province, because the legislation passed yesterday is draconian, it is unprecedented in Canadian labour history, it not only invokes the notwithstanding clause that removes peoples’ constitutional rights, it sets aside the human rights code, it sets aside huge parts of the Labour Relations Act, and that’s why I’m so proud to be here today with all of our members, they are the heroes in this story.”

CUPE spokesperson Laura Walton says members will walk off the job again Monday and says they’re prepared for fines and a court fight.

“My members are protected by their union, more than they’re protected by this government and they know that,” said Walton. “But I think the bigger question is what is this government so afraid of that they’re willing to go to these extraordinary measures to pressure workers to stop fighting for what should be theirs.”

CUPE has confirmed job action will continue on Monday and says it’s not willing to withdraw strike action unless the government repeals Bill 28.

The Toronto District School Board is preparing for virtual learning if the job action beyond next week.

“If it does continue into next week, we want to be able to make sure that we’re transitioning into that synchronous online learning as quickly as possible so that learning can continue, today it is asynchronous or non-live classroom instruction, it’s independent work at home for this one day,” said TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird.

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