Toronto

What GTA parents need to know if CUPE Ontario education workers strike on Monday

School boards have already announced plans to cancel classes, but parents still have questions about child care and other programs.

Schools in Toronto, Peel, York and Durham will close if union, government can't make a deal

A strike by CUPE's education workers could shutter public schools across the province on Monday. (Brenna Owen/CBC)

BREAKING: CUPE and the provincial government have reached a tentative deal to avert a full-scale strike. For more, click here.


Hundreds of thousands of Greater Toronto Area students could be out of class on Monday, if the union representing education workers and the provincial government can't strike a labour deal late Sunday.

Most public school boards have already announced plans to close in the event of a strike, but that decision still leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Here's a quick guide to some of those questions, although it's a good idea to check your school board's website, as well.

When will we know if there's a strike?

CUPE and the government remained locked in negotiations. There is no update on when the two sides will go public with a decision.

Can I send my kid to school if there is a strike?

No. 

School boards across the GTA have been clear that they cannot guarantee the health and safety of students in the event of a strike, and are telling parents to find other options.

"Please do not send your child to school," the Peel District School Board said in a letter to parents.

How will I know if my child's school is open or closed?

Most boards will communicate their decision directly to parents — for example, the Toronto Catholic District School Board will let parents know through its messenger system. 

You may not want to rely on your school's Twitter handle, though, as some accounts are run by clerical staff who are represented by CUPE. During the brief work-to-rule last week, those workers were told to stop this work. 

If there's a last-minute deal, will schools open in the morning?

School boards are awaiting a decision just like you are, and will make a decision as soon as they have an answer.

In Toronto, teachers have been told to report to school regardless of what happens with CUPE's negotiations. 

In Peel, the board has pledged to open its doors should the strike be suspended. 

Will extra-curricular activities be cancelled?

You should doublecheck, but the answer is likely yes.

My child care centre is in a public school, will it be affected?

The TDSB is allowing third-party child care operators to remain open, however the hours have been adjusted to 8 a.m.—4:45 p.m.

The York and Peel boards will shut down all before- and after-school programs.

Peel will also close child care programs operated on school property.

The Durham Catholic District School Board will continue to run child care programs for infants, toddlers and preschoolers who are already enrolled. 

Parents are being urged to contact their child care providers directly to get full details. 

Are there day camps I can send my child to? 

In Brampton, full-day camps will be offered at about a half-dozen community centres should a strike go ahead. These programs will be available for children aged four to 13 and will operate for as long as schools remain closed, according to a city news release.

Day camps will also run in Oakville at the Queen Elizabeth Park and River Oaks community centres. 

Other municipalities and businesses are also scrambling to offer programs to students, however in Toronto, the city has been forced to potentially cancel some programs that operate in schools.

Will school buses run?

The Durham school board has already announced plans to cancel all transportation services.

In Halton, school buses are expected to operate regularly, according to a tweet from Halton Student Transportation Services. 

If your child relies on the bus, check ahead.

What happens if I have a permit to use school space?

The TDSB has cancelled all permits. 

What about continuing education programs for older students?

Durham, Halton, and the TDSB and others have cancelled these classes. 

Teachers aren't a part of CUPE, but could they strike?

Ontario teachers are locked in their own negotiations with the province at the moment, and are at various stages of the process. For full details on each bargaining unit, check out this link.

How did we even get to this point?

Here's what's happened since CUPE and teachers last made a deal with the provincial government.

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