City workers strike, community centre closures could put March break plans on ice
Child care centres, arenas, community centres could face closures beginning Friday
A possible city workers strike — looming as early as this weekend — could close Toronto community centres and ice rinks, leaving parents planning to enrol their children in recreational programs over the March break feeling the pinch.
The clock is ticking for tens of thousands of city employees who could be in a strike position by Friday. City manager Peter Wallace announced Friday that in the event that a strike does go ahead, services related to health and safety including police, fire and paramedics will operate as usual.
But child care centres, arenas, community centres would not be operational, in addition to building permit services and waste collection east of Yonge Street.
That could put plans for winter fun on ice.
Parents concerned about childcare
"March break is coming up. We've had calls from parents concerned about their childcare," Coun. Mary-Margaret McMahon said.
Nancy Wells is among many parents concerned that the closures could leave kids cooped up at home for what's left of the winter.
"We skate three times a week, sometimes four, both days on the weekend. If they close the rinks, well there goes our winter activity," she said as she celebrated Family Day at Nathan Phillips Square Monday.
Jamie Robertson, who brings his family to skate at Kew Gardens in the Beach neighbourhood, is worried too.
"We come out here whenever we can. It's quite a resource for families and if we couldn't come here, especially a winter like this when there's no natural ice. That would be hard on us."
Ward 32 councillor McMahon says she hopes the city and unions can reach an agreement soon but knows labour deals can often come at the last minute.
"There hasn't been much movement so far, but I'm optimistic that there will be," she said.
"It's been the past history that there's usually movement closer to the time, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for that," McMahon said.
On Friday, Wallace said talks have so far involved "tough bargaining" but acknowledged it's possible a deal won't be reached before a possible work stoppage.
CUPE Local 79 representing inside workers and Local 416, representing outside workers, are seeking improved job security.
Local 79 workers will be in a legal strike position as of 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 20, while Local 416 could strike at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 19.