Students, parents and staff will know by Sunday at 5 p.m. whether or not Ontario education workers will strike on Monday, the union says.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the education workers' central bargaining committee for Canadian Union of Public Employees and Ontario School Board Council of Unions (CUPE-OSBCU) laid out the timetable for negotiations.
CUPE served a five-day strike notice on Wednesday after talks with the Ontario government broke down.
"The parties will spend all weekend at the table and we urge the government to return with the earnest intention of reaching a fair deal for students, families, and workers," the statement reads.
"Both parties have agreed to set a deadline of 5:00 pm on Sunday evening so we can provide parents and caregivers as much notice as possible. We will provide further updates when we have them."
More than 50,000 workers are set to walk off the job on Monday if a deal isn't reached.
The Ontario education ministry has told school boards to move to remote learning quickly if they determine they can't safely keep schools open.
Several school boards have already said learning will move online if workers go on strike again, two weeks after their last walkout ended. Both the Toronto District School Board and Toronto Catholic District School Board have said they will shut schools for in-person learning.
CUPE says both sides have agreed to a $1-per-hour raise each year or about 3.5 per cent annually.
But the union is still fighting for higher staffing levels for educational assistants, librarians, custodians, secretaries and early childhood educators.
Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce has said the government has put forward multiple improved offers and has not asked for any concessions.
Parents supportive but worried about strain on kids
Outside Orde Street Public School on Thursday, parents told CBC Toronto they want to see the government better support education workers, but they also fear another strike because of how much time children have spent outside the classroom due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Andrii Makovskiy, a parent, said he supports the demands of the education workers and understands the need for an increase in wages because of inflation.
"It's very uncomfortable but reasons for the strike are completely understandable for me. We just need to be together with school staff because what I see is government is not responding fairly to what teachers and CUPE are asking," he said.
"It's tough for us, but we need to be together."
Osama Abumregha, another parent, said he is concerned about the effects of a strike on children because socialization is part of education. He said his wife would stay at home for the duration of the strike to ensure that learning continues online.
"I support the demands but not the strike," he said.
Parent Sanjog Kalra said more time outside of school is not good for children's development and education. A strike is not ideal for his family because it means having to arrange child care or take days off work, he said.
"I can understand the need for more support because the entire workforce right across everywhere is strained. The last two years have taken a lot out of everybody," he said.
Kalra said the tone of labour disputes often become acrimonious. He said both sides should drop that tone and walk back to the table with the idea that what matters is the children.
"The focus here is good working conditions for everybody so that people can feel taken care of and feel respected. But at the same time, remember at the end of the day who is holding the bag. It's kids in this building."