Ottawa Catholic School Board closes schools if staff leave on Friday

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Schools on the Ottawa Catholic School Board will close Friday as education union workers continue their plan to resign and hold a daylong demonstration, the board says.

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The provincial government pledged Monday to introduce legislation to prevent CUPE’s 55,000 members from fulfilling their pledge to strike Friday if no contract agreement is reached.

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The government said it would contract workers and impose fines for violating a strike ban for the duration of the agreement.

The union responded by announcing that members will instead hold a demonstration on Friday.

At the OCSB, spokesperson Sharlene Hunter said the school will close Friday if CUPE members are not at work.

Without them, it wouldn’t be safe to operate, she said.

There are more than 1,300 full-time and 700 casual employees on the board represented by CUPE.

They include teaching assistants, early childhood educators, office administrators, and library technicians.

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Those staff members supervise students, guard front door entrances, respond to parental calls, process attendance, support and maintain technology, assist in the safe arrival of students and support their medical, toilet and behavioral needs, the board said.

The board had already told parents over the weekend that if CUPE members went on strike, schools would close and students would switch to distance learning after a day of teacher preparation.

The board has not yet decided whether it is worth switching to distance learning if CUPE members are only off work for one day, Hunter said.

Ottawa’s two French-language school boards also have CUPE members.

The Eastern Ontario public school board told parents it is monitoring the situation, but: “At this point, our schools will remain open.”

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