Labour Update as of: November 20, 2022

On November 20th, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the provincial government announced that they have reached a tentative agreement and plans for strike action have been cancelled. 


This means that schools will be open and students will attend in-person learning on Monday, November 21st.   

  • At SMCDSB, CUPE represents custodial staff
  • The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is currently in contract negotiations with the province of Ontario.
  • CUPE and the provincial government announced that a tentative agreement had been reached as of Sunday, November 20th     
  • Custodial staff play a critical role in keeping our students safe, by providing a clean and healthy environment 
  • Without custodial staff, we cannot provide students with a healthy and safe place to learn

General Questions and Answers

What unions represent employees at the SMCDSB?

The following education workers are represented by unions:

  • Custodial Staff  - Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)

  • Educational Assistants  - Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF)

  • Designated Early Childhood Educators (DECE) - Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF)

  • Maintenance Staff - Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF)

  • Office and Clerical Workers - Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF)

  • Elementary Teachers - Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA)

  • Secondary Teachers - Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA)

  • Occasional Teachers - Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA)

What is the status of labour negotiations with other union groups?

All staff represented by unions at the SMCDSB are currently without contracts. Negotiations have begun with CUPE. Negotiations have not yet started with OECTA and OSSTF.

How will labour action impact my child’s school?

The full or partial withdrawal of service from any of our union groups would undoubtedly impact service delivery in your child’s school. Full strike action could result in school closures. A partial withdrawal of service and/or “work to rule” action would result in varying levels of disruption and impact to the learning environment and service delivery. 

What kind of job action can we expect?

On August 31, 2022, contracts expired for all employees represented by union groups at our board and across the entire province. This means that unions representing education workers across Ontario are currently engaged in collective bargaining processes in order to secure new contracts for their respective employee groups. Until negotiated settlements are reached, there is the potential for labour action with any or all of our unionized employee groups. 

What is legal job action?

Legal job action includes work-to-rule campaigns, withdrawal of services, labour disruption and strikes. There is a prescribed process which each union must follow in order to be in a legal strike position. This includes holding a strike vote with its members and issuing a “No Board Report” with the Ministry of Labour. Union groups must also provide five days written notice of any strike action, including work-to-rule or labour disruption. Our Board will communicate labour updates, as they become available, with our school communities. 

Is it the provincial government or school board that is negotiating with union groups?

Publicly-funded education in Ontario uses a two-tier bargaining process:

Central Bargaining which takes place between the Government of Ontario, union groups (central team) and the Trustees Associations. Central bargaining would include province-wide issues e.g., compensation, class sizes.

Local Bargaining which takes place between the union groups (local team) and the District School Board. Local bargaining would include issues specific to each Board of Education e.g., management rights, contracting out.

This means that the central body of each union negotiates with the province AND their local units bargain with each individual school board. Different aspects of a collective agreement are negotiated at each level.

Will my child be asked to assist with jobs that are normally done by employees?

No. Our schools have been provided with clear instructions that students will not be asked to assist with jobs normally completed by unionized employees. 

What is the board’s role?

We understand that a labour disruption can be unsettling and difficult for students, parents and school communities. As a Catholic school board, we respect the collective bargaining process and we are hopeful that a freely negotiated agreement is reached quickly.

The SMCDSB is committed to balancing the rights of our unionized staff with our collective goal of providing a safe and nurturing learning environment for our students. Escalating labour action will undoubtedly have an impact. However, our Board is committed to assessing issues on a day by day and school by school basis so that we can make decisions that are in the best interest of our students. Your child’s safety and learning environment will always be at the forefront of our decision-making process.

Are there Catholic social teachings related to labour negotiations?

The Catholic Church has a long history of official Catholic social teaching, which includes significant documents on work, the dignity and rights of workers, the right to a just wage, the right to organize and to bargain collectively for fair wages and benefits. These documents date back to the 1891 letter Rerum Novarum of Pope Leo XIII, and include major teaching documents from modern popes and national bishops’ conferences. To learn more:

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (especially Chapters 6 and 7, on Human Work and Economic Life)

The Center for Social Concerns, University of Notre Dame

Six Key Church Documents Addressing Labor

What is expected of students and staff while learning online?

We are committed to ensuring that a safe, inclusive, respectful and faith-filled environment is maintained at all times in a remote learning environment. We would like to highlight some important information and expectations, which must be followed by all students, staff, and parents/guardians.

Please review the Remote Learning Guidelines and Expectations (PDF)