Schools are closing as 55,000 education workers strike in Canada’s Ontario

OTTAWA, Nov. 4

The workers, who include teaching assistants, secretarial workers and librarians, are striking on Sunday, saying they have had little success negotiating a new contract with the Doug Ford-led Ontario government.

In anticipation of the strike, school boards in Toronto and Ottawa notified parents that schools would be closed for in-person learning on Friday, and that students should work independently at home.

Ford’s Progressive Conservative Government says the workers’ demands are too high and has introduced controversial legislation to enforce and ban the contract with workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). It also includes $4,000 daily fines for striking workers, who the union has said it will fight or pay if necessary.

Still, on Friday morning, workers began picketing lines in dozens of locations across the province, including outside the office of Ontario Ministry of Education Stephen Lecce.

Lecce, calling the strike illegal, said in a statement Friday that the government has filed a complaint with the Ontario Labor Relations Board against CUPE workers.

“Nothing is more important right now than getting all the students back in school and we will use every tool to do that,” Lecce said.

Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; Editing by Josie Kao

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