Update: Schools in Burlington, Oakville and Milton brace for a strike as province tables legislation to stop it

By

Published October 31, 2022 at 1:27 pm

Elementary schools across Halton Region were preparing for a strike this week as Ontario legislation aimed to block job action.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing union about 55,000 Ontario education workers, said there would be a full withdrawal of services effective Friday (Nov. 4) if a provincial settlement is not reached by end of day on Nov. 3.

CUPE represents custodial staff in elementary and secondary schools in the Halton District School Board (HDSB). It does not represent educational assistants, early childhood educators or school support staff as it does in some other Ontario school boards.

The HDSB announced a plan yesterday (Oct. 30) to alternate between in-person and remote learning for elementary students (Kindergarten – Grade 8) but all that may change with provincial legislation.

“This is a fluid and changing situation. The HDSB is monitoring the situation daily and decisions will be made accordingly and with the safety and well-being of students and staff as our highest priority,” the board said on their website.

The HDSB planned to keep secondary schools (Grade 9-12) open for in-person learning for all students each day. Under the current HDSB contract, secondary schools can contract custodial services to maintain services in secondary schools.

Videos

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce tabled legislation around 1 p.m. today (Oct. 31) to block a strike. But a short time later CUPE reportedly said the workers would strike regardless of the legislation.

Negotiations between the union and the province with a mediator broke down last week with both sides still far apart on wages.

CUPE is looking for annual salary increases of 11.7 per cent and the government in response has offered raises of two per cent a year for workers making less than $40,000 and 1.25 per cent for all others.

Education workers have made several other proposals, including overtime at two times the regular pay rate, 30 minutes of paid prep time per day for educational assistants and ECEs, an increase in benefits and professional development for all workers.

Other than the proposal on wages, the government’s offer seeks to keep all other areas the same as the previous deal except for a cut to sick leave pay.

The government wants to institute what it’s calling a five-day “waiting period” for short-term disability during which a worker would receive 25 per cent of their normal pay and 90 per cent for the rest of the 120 days.

See the Halton District School Board website for more information on plans in the event of a strike.

With files from The Canadian Press

insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising