Windsor

Elections Canada says it's working on a contingency plan in the event of a CUPE strike

Elections Canada says a potential strike by Ontario education workers part of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) likely won't affect schools that operate as polling places for the upcoming Oct. 21 federal election.

'So far, the word is that everybody will be voting at the polling stations that are now established'

Schools operating as Elections Canada polling sites likely won't be affected by a CUPE Ontario education worker strike. (Peter Power/The Canadian Press)

Elections Canada says a potential strike by Ontario education workers part of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) likely won't affect schools that operate as polling places for the upcoming Oct. 21 federal election.

Rejean Grenier, a regional media advisor with the federal elections office, said Elections Canada is working on a contingency plan in the event of a strike.

He said Elections Canada has "made no other plans so far … and in the event that the work-to-rule situation continues, we will just work around it and people will be able to vote."

CUPE education sector employees in Ontario began a work-to-rule job action Monday, after negotiations over the weekend failed to result in an agreement. 

Since then, education employees — ranging from custodial staff to psychologists to educational assistants — have been solely fulfilling their core duties.

The union told the province on Wednesday that CUPE would declare a full-blown strike on Oct. 7, if a collective agreement isn't reached by this Friday. 

"So far, the word is that everybody will be voting at the polling stations that are now established and that are now written on the voter information cards that people are receiving this week," said Grenier.

He added that he presumes that Elections Canada's operations representatives have been in contact with provincial school boards, but said "they have not said anything about changing anything right now."

A strike would affect approximately 550 clerical, custodial, maintenance and information technology employees part of CUPE Locals 1348 and 27 with the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB).

Approximately 568 support workers — including early childhood educators and speech and language pathologists — part of the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB) could also go on strike.

If CUPE were to declare a strike action, schools part of the region's public system would remain open, while the region's Catholic system said it would close schools. 

Talks between education workers and the province resume this Friday. 

With files from Amy Dodge

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