Ottawa Catholic School Board will close schools if staff walks out on Friday

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Schools in the Ottawa Catholic School Board will close Friday if unionized education workers go ahead with their plan to walk off the job and hold a day-long demonstration, says the board.

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The provincial government promised Monday to introduce legislation to prevent the 55,000 members of CUPE from carrying through on their promise to strike Friday if a contract agreement is not reached.

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The government said it would impose a contract on workers and impose fines for violating a ban on strikes for the life of the agreement.

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

At the OCSB, spokesperson Sharlene Hunter saids school will close Friday if CUPE members are not on the job.

It would not be safe to operate without them, she said.

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

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

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Those staff supervise students, monitor front door entrances, respond to parent calls, process attendance, support and maintain technology, assist with the safe arrival of students, and support their medical, toileting and behavioural needs, said the board.

The board had already told parents on the weekend that if CUPE members went on strike, schools would close and students would shift to remote learning after one day of preparation time for teachers.

The board has not decided yet whether it’s worth it to start a shift to remote learning if CUPE members are only off the job for one day, said Hunter.

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

The Conseil des Écoles Publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario told parents that it is monitoring the situation but, “At this time our schools remain open.”

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