This is how much Ontario education workers could be fined if they strike
As the prospect of a strike looms in Ontario, the provincial government is threatening education workers with hefty fines if they walk off the job this week.
The Ford government said they will enforce a daily fine of up to $4,000 for individual employees or $500,000 for the union.
With 55,000 education workers set to strike, the daily bill could amount to $220 million per day if maximum charges are laid.
Each day an employee walks off the job, the government says it's prepared to lay down a new fine.
These fines are outlined in the government’s “Keeping Students in Class Act,” which Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce tabled on Monday to “terminate” a strike and impose a four-year collective agreement on the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
CUPE said on Monday that it would help members pay fines.
“There are consequences and we have shared those with our members and I think there are also consequences for not fighting,” Laura Walton, the president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions, said at a news conference on Monday.
“At what point as people in Ontario do we stand up and say, enough is enough?”
Ontario Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter called the threat of a $4,000 fine an “extreme” amount of money. On average, education workers in Ontario make $39,000 a year, according to the union.
“It's 10 per cent of the average annual salary that one of these workers makes in one day for exercising their right to strike,” Hunter said at a Queen’s Park media availability on Wednesday.
In order to push this legislation through before the Friday deadline, the Ford government has invoked the notwithstanding clause, which overrides the charter of rights and freedoms. In this case, pertaining to CUPE members.
The legislation was condemned by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who said that the clause should only be used in “exceptional” situations.
On Tuesday night, CUPE put forward a counter-offer. The union says it is hoping to hear back on Wednesday from the government
The union has not revealed what their new offer contains, but have said that it is “reasonable.”
CUPE has been striving for an 11.7 per cent salary increase while the government has offered two per cent pay bumps for workers making less than $40,000 and 1.25 per cent for the others.
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