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Strike out and strike back
In this edition: your guide to the looming job action in schools, strong mayors and big municipal jumps, fiscal updates incoming, meet the new PCO executive
In this 10 minute read: what you need to know about the upcoming provincial walkout by CUPE education workers. Crombie on driving Mississauga out of Peel. What to expect in the incoming FES’. Fife says no to a bid for captain. Canada’s new “Immigration Levels Plan.” Plus, meet the new Tory executive.
The Ford government has tabled legislation that would preemptively block CUPE education workers from entering a provincewide strike and impose a contract — a day after the union served notice of job action to begin Friday.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce introduced the Keeping Students in Class Act — terminating any possible job action by education workers represented by the union and enforcing a four year deal with the union. The Tories will invoke the notwithstanding clause — for the second time — to keep the legislation in force amid expected constitutional challenges.
What the government is saying: Lecce told reporters that he was tabling the legislation “with regret,” claiming that the government was acting “decisively” to prevent the looming job action. The government says it extended an “updated” and “enhanced” offer to the union but that CUPE is “proceeding with strike action, even after a good faith attempt by the government to deliver a deal.”
Here are the highlights of the legislation:
Education workers with annual wages under $43,000 will receive a boost of 2.5 per cent — an increase from the initial offer of 2 per cent offered. Those earning over $43k will receive a 1.5 per cent increase, up from the 1.25 per cent initially offered.
The government says it will increase benefit contributions “resulting in a $6,120 annual employer contribution per employee by August 31, 2026.”
The contract will last for four years. The province had told the union that it was “contemplating a four year-term” for the next collective agreement instead of the “standard three-year term.” Catch up here.
Hefty fines are being placed in an attempt to quash possible job action. A $4,000 fine per worker per day will be imposed for those who illegally walk off the job. The union would pay an additional $500,000 fine per day.
What the union is saying: CUPE will defy the proposed legislation and will proceed with a full provincial walkout on Friday.
Provincial president Fred Hahn called the legislation a “monstrous overreach,” claiming the government was proceeding with a “nuclear option.” The union has not indicated whether this strike — what it is calling a “political protest” — could drag on but said that it was prepared to provide financial support to workers unable to pay the fines.
Here's what CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions president Laura Walton, Hahn and Lecce told reporters at Queen's Park:
What the Opposition is saying: Backlash against the proposed legislation came quick — with one Opposition group accusing the government of running “roughshod over individual rights.”
Chandra Pasma (NDP MPP): “Instead of giving education workers a decent wage, and ensuring caring adults are there for our kids in the classroom, Ford and Lecce are launching a losing battle. When the Liberals meddled with the bargaining rights of educators and teachers, the courts ordered the government to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Mitzie Hunter (Liberal MPP): “Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce must get back to the negotiating table and hammer out a fair deal.”
Mike Schreiner (Green captain): “I call on Ford and Lecce to backtrack on this legislation and work with CUPE in a respectful bargaining process that delivers the best outcome for students and families.”
Canadian Civil Liberties Association: “This misuse, and the flagrant disregard for individual rights is wrong and it is dangerous to our constitutional democracy.”
LiUNA! Canada: “We urge you to revoke the recently announced anti-union legislation that erodes the collective bargaining rights of over 55,000 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) who keep our public education institutions strong, safe, and functioning.”
It is unclear what the legislation will mean for ongoing bargaining with other major education unions. The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) walked away from bargaining yesterday, saying that it “could not, in good conscience, sit across the table from the government.”
What job action means for schools: Toronto District School Board — the largest school board in Ontario — will close schools on Friday. “This is not a decision that we take lightly and we have explored every possible contingency plan to keep schools open,” the board said in a letter to families. Peel District School Board will do the same, moving students to “asynchronous learning.”
York Region District School Board is encouraging families to “begin making alternate arrangements” for students on Friday. Other boards will also shutter schools for the day while some plan to move classes online.
The legislation is expected to pass on Thursday — a day before the looming strike. MPPs regrouped earlier this morning with Education Minister Stephen Lecce kicking off debate for second reading of the bill.
Meet the Mayors — the winners of the civic elections
Voters in Ontario elected their new municipal governments — with two former provincial captains making the jump to local politics and big-name mayors fending off competitors in exhilarating (or not) races.
Here are the biggest highlights:
— John Tory will be the Mayor of Toronto for another four years. Tory — who will be the first “strong mayor” of the city — secured a decisive victory over main challenger Gill Penalosa.
— Mark Sutcliffe will replace Jim Watson as Ottawa Mayor. He defeated main rival Catherine McKenney by over 50 per cent of the vote. He will be the second mayor, alongside Tory, to earn enhanced powers from Queen's Park.
— Patrick Brown will return to Brampton City Hall after securing a victory over primary opponent Nikki Kaur — whose bid was supported by a number of Tory and Liberal operatives. Brown garnered over sixty per cent of the vote.
— Former NDP captain Andrea Horwath is the new Mayor of Hamilton. Horwath — once a local councillor — narrowly beat out challenger Keanin Loomis. We had the scoop on Horwath’s bid for Hamilton Mayor in June.
— Steven Del Duca is also making the jump from provincial politics — becoming the new Mayor of Vaughan. The former Liberal leader was endorsed by outgoing mayor Mauricio Bevilacqua and was elected with a narrow lead of 851 votes.
— Bonnie Crombie secured a third term as Mayor of Mississauga. The incumbent mayor defeated her opponents by 75,000 votes. We caught up with Crombie after her victory speech. Here’s what she told us:
On how she felt during the day: “I always get anxious at election time, even though, maybe I had the sense that I could get reelected. You're always nervous. You gotta put in the work every time.”
On the possibilities of becoming a strong mayor: “I haven't yet conceived of an issue in which I would use the ‘strong mayor’ powers. I'm a consensus builder, much like John Tory. I have a very strong council and we all are very passionate about doing the right things for Mississauga. 95% of our votes are unanimous. There are very few opportunities that I could envision where I would need these powers.”
On leaving Peel Region: “I will continue to advocate. It is the will of the Premier and the province to allow it to happen. I'm going to continue to drive that having an independent single-tier city would provide more fairness and value to our taxpayers. We feel that our tax dollars should be reinvested in our city and not sent to another council for their approval.”
“Why shouldn't Mississauga — which is the province’s third largest city — be a single-tier independent city that doesn't have to receive permission from another council to move forward with their priorities? Without all that red tape and duplication of two councils, we could speed up the development process and get more affordable housing built. I think that's a message that will resonate with the Premier.”
On her priorities in her third term: “Doing what I can to reduce costs and helping people. Building public transit and continuing to build innovative, sustainable, mixed-use communities that are complete. Places where people live and work. I would like to build a more livable, walkable city, particularly in the downtown, and building communities outside the downtown. To continue to attract investment into our city so I could continue to provide jobs to people who already live here. We are a powerhouse. We are a net importer of jobs. I want to continue to attract investment so we can continue to create jobs.”
Prudent play: FES’ on the way
Mark your calendars: a federal and provincial fiscal update is coming.
Finance Minister Christya Freeland will deliver the Fall Economic Statement — an update on the state of the economy — to the House of Commons on Thursday, in what is expected to follow a prudent approach in financing of new projects.
Freeland had hinted that “difficult days” are ahead for the country's economy amid rising interest rates, while signaling that Ottawa cannot “support every single Canadian in the way we did with the emergency measures that we put in place at the height of the pandemic.”
“Our economy will slow. There will be people whose mortgage rates will rise. Businesses will no longer be booming. Our unemployment rate will no longer be at its record low.”
Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre penned an open letter to Freeland with his expectations, calling on Ottawa to not implement new taxes and ensure that any new spending is matched by “an equivalent saving.”
Meanwhile: Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy will drop a fiscal update on November 14, calling it a “progress update on Ontario’s plan to build.”
That is one day before the Fall Economic Statement was legally due to be released. Speaking at Canadian Club Toronto yesterday, Bethlenfalvy teased the mini-budget will take a “different” and “fiscally prudent approach.”
Ontario is legally challenging a summon for Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister (then Solicitor General) Sylvia Jones to appear at the Rouleau Inquiry — which is investigating the feds’ invocation of the Emergencies Act — as witnesses. Lawyers for the Ford government argued that the duo could not testify over parliamentary privilege.
Here’s what is on the political calendar for the week ahead:
November 3: Finance Minister Christya Freeland will table the Fall Economic Statement.
November 6: The start of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in attendance, alongside a Canadian delegation.
November 8 (or before): Federal Court Justice Simon Fothergill is expected to rule on the legal challenge from the Ford government on the Rouleau Inquiry summon of Premier Ford and Minister Jones.
NDP MPP Catherine Fife says she will not seek the leadership of the party. Fife — one of the NDPers who has been “seriously exploring entering the race” — said she will not do so “for personal and professional reasons.” Read our Q+A with the only candidate in the leadership arena.
Ottawa is planning to welcome 500,000 immigrants each year by 2025, to fight “critical labour market shortages causing uncertainty for Canadian businesses and workers.” More from the federal government.
Greens have voted to support the leadership of Mike Schreiner. The first and only Green elected to Queen’s Park secured 97% of a confidence vote at the party's annual convention this weekend.
ON THE MOVE
The Ontario PC Party has a new executive with party strategist Michael Diamond elected as party president. Here's the full roster:
Chris Loreto — First Vice President
Jay Davidson — Second Vice President
Kyle Sholes — Third Vice President
Nico Fidani-Diker — Fourth Vice President
Stephanie Delorme — Fifth Vice President
Sukhman Sangha — Sixth Vice President
Tim Iqbal — Seventh Vice President
Maddy Stieva — Eighth Vice President
Alex Corelli — Ninth Vice President
Colin McSweeney — Regional Vice President
Philip Power — Regional Vice President
Sukhpal Sidhu — Regional Vice President
Alicia Vianga — Regional Vice President
Martin Proulx — Regional Vice President
Jordan Erickson — Regional Vice President
Robert Dekker — Regional Vice President
Paul Synnott — Regional Vice President
John Demik — Regional Vice President
David Dipaul — Regional Vice President
Are you an insider on the move? We want to feature you in the next newsletter. Drop us a line and tell us more about your new gig.
WHAT WE'RE READING
TORONTO STAR: “Patrick Brown fined $100,000 by federal Conservative party” by Stephanie Levitz
AXIOS: “Elon Musk completes Twitter takeover and fires top executives” by Sara Fischer and Dan Primack
TORONTO SUN: “Canada's delegation to Queen's funeral spent almost $400,000 for hotel rooms alone” by Brian Lilley
CBC NEWS: “Former Ottawa police chief attributes attacks on him to 'rumour'” by Catharine Tunney
Last week's question: NDP MP Alistair MacGregor tabled the ‘greedflation’ motion calling on the federal government to act on high food prices. Read it here.
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: When was the first time the provincial government invoked the notwithstanding clause? Send us your answer.
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