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Canada How a school strike in Ontario could affect the election

13:25  03 october  2019
13:25  03 october  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

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As hard as Ontario Premier Doug Ford is trying to stay out of the federal election , the provincial political climate is threatening to drag him back into the campaign in a big way, as some 55,000 education workers in the province are poised to strike on Monday if they do not reach a contract deal.

On Thursday, schools boards across Ontario sent notices to parents warning that without custodians, clerical staff, education assistants and others on site, they cannot guarantee students' safety and would be forced to close until workers How a school strike in Ontario could affect the federal election .

Doug Ford wearing a suit and tie: Premier Doug Ford has kept a low profile since the federal election campaign started but a strike by education workers could force him back into the spotlight. That's something the federal Conservatives do not want right now.© Cole Burston/The Canadian Press Premier Doug Ford has kept a low profile since the federal election campaign started but a strike by education workers could force him back into the spotlight. That's something the federal Conservatives do not want right now.

As hard as Ontario Premier Doug Ford is trying to stay out of the federal election campaign, the provincial political climate is threatening to drag him back into the spotlight in a big way.

That's because some 55,000 education workers in Ontario are poised to strike on Monday if they do not reach a contract deal by then. Such a strike has the potential to shut down classes for many of the 2 million students in Ontario's school system.

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Eastern Ontario 's French public school board, the Conseil des écoles publiques de l'Est de l' Ontario , said Wednesday its schools will stay open, though community rentals are cancelled until further notice. How a school strike in Ontario could affect the federal election .

School boards across Toronto and its suburbs say they will close their schools on Monday if a proposed strike by CUPE education workers goes ahead because they wouldn't be able to ensure student safety. How a school strike in Ontario could affect the federal election .

Even though education is a provincial issue, federal Conservatives are worried about the potential impact of a strike on their political hopes in Ontario, particularly in swing ridings around Toronto. That's because they keep hearing from voters at the doors that Ford's record makes them reluctant to vote for Andrew Scheer.

A school strike under Ford's government is not going to help Scheer in any way.

a kitchen with a table in a room: Education workers have been in a work-to-rule situation since Monday.© Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Education workers have been in a work-to-rule situation since Monday.

The strike notice comes from CUPE, which represents janitors, clerical staff and educational assistants in 90 per cent of Ontario's school boards. Some of those boards are already warning parents to make alternate child care arrangements, and at least one district says it will definitely close schools on Monday should the strike begin.

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The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) began holding a series of weekly one-day rotating strikes in early December. This includes children who are enrolled in daycare at a school or institution closed by a strike . How much are parents eligible for?

Ontario elementary teachers are holding off rotating strikes for two weeks. The last big province-wide strike lasted two weeks. That said, there’s no clear limit—although when school strikes drag on so long they threaten the students’ academic year, the province tends to order them back to work.

Although Ontario's Education Minister Stephen Lecce declined to speculate on what's behind the timing of the strike notice, Conservatives active in both the federal and Ontario parties say privately they are convinced it has everything to do with the election campaign.

They believe at the very least the union is trying to leverage the election — and the Ford government's fear of how a strike could hurt the federal party — to get a better deal. These Conservatives also wonder if there's an even bigger political play going on: an attempt to weaken Scheer's chances by forcing Ford back into the public eye.

Ford has been keeping a low profile for weeks, insisting he's too busy governing to get involved in the campaign. It's a sharp change of tone from the past year when he took many opportunities to swipe at Justin Trudeau. But federal Conservatives admit that an outspoken Ford is no longer of political advantage to their party.

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The walkout, which affected roughly 40,000 high school teachers and 15,000 support staff, signals that a full-blown strike could be on the way. 2:49 1-day strike held by Ontario high school teachers and support workers. WATCH ABOVE: Thousands of teachers in Ontario hit the picket lines for a one-day

Such a strike has the potential to shut down classes for many of the 2 million students in Ontario 's school system. Ford announced the Ontario Line project in April as a replacement for the city council-approved relief line subway. Under the potential deal, which hasn’t While the deal would involve the

The federal Liberals clearly agree and want to exploit this, which is why Trudeau keeps blatantly aiming to link Scheer to Ford in the minds of voters in Ontario and beyond.

If there is a strike on Monday, the Ford government has two options: it could either recall Queen's Park from its lengthy adjournment to bring in back-to-work legislation, or it could let the strike continue.

If the government chooses legislation, Ford's party will have to face question period, putting a media spotlight on the polarizing premier, if he attends the sessions.

If the government chooses to let the strike go on, there's a chance that public opinion will not favour the union as parents scramble to figure out what to do with their kids all day. There's equally a chance that public opinion turns squarely against Ford. Statistics provided by the union (and not disputed by the government) suggest their members earn on average $38,000 a year — not the sort of salary that lends itself to accusations that the workers are greedy.

a man reading a book shelf: Education Minister Stephen Lecce says his government is working 'around the clock' on contract negotiations and he doesn't want any students to miss out on class because of strike action.© Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Education Minister Stephen Lecce says his government is working 'around the clock' on contract negotiations and he doesn't want any students to miss out on class because of strike action.

There's still time to stave off a strike. The two sides have agreed to go back to bargaining table Friday afternoon and to negotiate through the weekend if necessary.

Lecce said the parties were close to a deal when talks broke off last weekend. But with the political stakes as high as they are right now, anything could happen.

I asked the union leaders in their news conference Wednesday whether the timing of their strike notice was connected with the election campaign. They didn't deny it.

UAW increases strike pay to $275 per week as talks with GM continue .
The UAW also will allow members to work part-time and receive strike pay as long as they continue their picket-line duties.The UAW International Executive Board voted in a motion Saturday for the increase, which is a raise from the current $250 per week rate. The strike against General Motors, involving more than 46,000 UAW members, is nearing the end of its fourth week.

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