PM criticizes Ontario's use of notwithstanding clause in education worker bill

TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is criticizing the Ontario government's use of the notwithstanding clause in legislation to impose contracts on education workers and ban them from striking.

Trudeau says using the notwithstanding clause to "suspend workers' rights is wrong" and while collective bargaining is difficult, the process must happen.

Federal Justice Minister David Lametti says he is looking at how Ottawa could challenge the province's use of the notwithstanding clause, because he says using it pre-emptively is "exceedingly problematic," cutting off political debate and judicial scrutiny.

Ontario's legislature has been sitting since 5 a.m. today for debate over the bill, as the government hopes it can be passed by the end of the week, ahead of a planned strike by the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

CUPE has said the approximately 55,000 education workers it represents -- such as early childhood educators, custodians and librarians -- will walk off the job Friday regardless of the legislation.

Several school boards, including the Toronto District School Board, have said they will have to close schools that day in response.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 1, 2022.

The Canadian Press