Education minister determined to get CUPE deal

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce speaks to reporters during a news conference on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. Lecce says he's determined to use every last option to get a deal with CUPE and its 55,000 support staff. (Ontario Parliament Channel via Newswatch Group)

TORONTO – Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce says he’s prepared to meet – as early as today – with CUPE to get a deal for the province’s 55,000 support staff.

During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Lecce expressed frustration why CUPE had ramped up its job action – signalling an all-out walkout on Monday – two days after it started a work-to-rule campaign.

CUPE maintains that school boards are using their work-to-rule job action as an excuse to cancel programming and have parents fill the void of their members.

Lecce described the two sides as “close” to a deal after bargaining last weekend.

The main sticking point is around sick days, according to the government.

“I remain determined to reach a deal,” an adamant Lecce told reporters at Queen’s Park.

He says both sides should be focusing more on the children and depoliticizing the process.

CUPE says its prepared to meet starting on Friday, ahead of a Monday walkout.