Toronto may face massive labour disruption this weekend

Nearly 24,000 Toronto city employees could go on strike Saturday, as members of CUPE Local 79 have been without a contract since the end of 2019.

Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal QC

Nearly 24,000 Toronto city employees could go on strike Saturday, as members of CUPE Local 79—including public health employees—have been without a contract since the end of 2019.

Other workers in the union include city planners and recreation staff, positions which could leave parents behind the eight ball, if a labour disruption would take place.

According to Global News, CUPE Local 79 requested a no-board report on February 21 "after meeting with a conciliation officer provided by the province." The 17-day countdown following that meeting issued by the Ministry of Labour will expire this coming weekend.

Labour disruptions could prove to be disastrous, as a workers strike could temporarily shut down childcare facilities and day schools which could leave up to 2,000 children in limbo.

The strikes could come as March Break does, which would also cancel city-run camps in recreational centres run by Toronto.

Toronto City Manager Chris Murray says the strikes will not affect critical operations like the city's disease monitoring for the rampant coronavirus, which has put entire countries on lockdown. All operations considered "non-essential" will be temporarily halted, including sexual health clinics.

A city spokesperson also confirmed that work stoppages would temporarily shutdown bylaw operations and licence permits, meaning that only emergency building permits will be issued. Event permits would also be halted.

Local 79 says they're seeking higher wages, benefits, and parental leave.

Mayor John Tory said that he's optimistic a deal will be made that both sides see as fair.

“The City’s bargaining team has been at the bargaining table with Local 79 since December, including throughout this past weekend, and will remain at the table this week,” said Tory Wednesday.

“The best possible contingency plan is to negotiate a fair contract,” said Dave Mitchell, president of Local 79 in a statement.


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