le Lundi 5 Décembre 2022
le Mercredi 9 novembre 2022 14:38 Tribune-Express (Hawkesbury)

Premier Ford to repeal controversial Bill 28

Hundreds of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) members picketed in front of MPP Stéphane Sarrazin’s riding office in Hawkesbury on Friday, November 4 after the Ontario government approved Bill 28 to impose a new contract on school support workers and prevent them from strike action by using the Notwithstanding Clause in the Charter of Rights. The government has since announced it will rescind the legislation and school support workers have returned to work as of November 8.  — photo Antoine Messier
Hundreds of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) members picketed in front of MPP Stéphane Sarrazin’s riding office in Hawkesbury on Friday, November 4 after the Ontario government approved Bill 28 to impose a new contract on school support workers and prevent them from strike action by using the Notwithstanding Clause in the Charter of Rights. The government has since announced it will rescind the legislation and school support workers have returned to work as of November 8.
photo Antoine Messier
School support staff strike ends after the provincial government promises to repeal Bill 28 if CUPE members go back to work. School were expected to reopen for classes as of Tuesday.

Bill 28 included the “notwithstanding clause” which allows provincial legislatures to override parts of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms on a short-term basis.

CUPE representatives said at a press conference on Monday that Ford has put his commitment in writing. Negotiations are due to restart.

“CUPE’s frontline education workers, 70 per cent of whom are women, stood firm,” said Mark Hancock, CUPE president. “They took on the Ford government. And the government blinked. We’ve shown that when our rights are under attack, our movement is strong, and we will stand up for each other.”

The legislature is not sitting right now, which means MPPs will have to be called back to Queen’s Park early to vote to repeal Bill 26 this week.

 

CUPE demands

The government offered a two-per-cent annual increase for all workers with annual wages under $40,000 per year and a 1.25-per-cent increase for all others. The government’s new deal would give a 2.5-per-cent annual increase to all workers with annual wages under $43,000 per year and a 1.5-per-cent increase for all others.

CUPE has been demanding an 11.7 per cent increase, overtime at double the regular pay rate and 30 minutes of paid prep time for educational assistants and early childcare educators. The union said it cut its wage increase demands by half and made substantial concessions in different areas last week.

The support workers included in the deal are maintenance staff, school office and clerical staff, educational assistants, early childhood educators, library workers, and information technology staff.

School closures

“CUPE makes up approximately 25 per cent of the UCDSB workforce and holds critical positions that support our students and school system.” said UCDSB Director Ron Ferguson.

With all schools from the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO), the Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario (CEPEO), and the Conseil scolaire de district Catholique de l’Est-Ontarien (CSDCEO) facing a similar situation regarding staff, all schools in Prescott-Russell were forced to shutdown and move to online learning on Friday November 5 and Monday November 7. Schools will reopen to students on Tuesday November 8. Parents are advised to check with the school district if their local school has resumed in-person classes.