There is no end in sight for the York Region Transit (YRT) strike. The saga continued after signs of hope emerged last week when three of York Region’s Conservative MPPs tabled back-to-work legislation in Queen’s Park to no avail.
The rejected private member’s bill failed to pass second reading after the NDP and Liberal party voted against it. Thornhill MPP Peter Shurman, who tabled the bill, told Salam Toronto in a phone interview that the Liberal Party rejected the bill “for partisan purposes” and singled out York Region’s four Liberal MPPs.
But, Shurman said that, the NDP voted against the bill because of the essential service aspect attached to it.
“They (NDP) don’t believe in taking away the unions’ right to strike because of the nature of their beliefs,” Shurman told Salam Toronto.
During the debate session in Queen’s Park last Thursday, NDP House Leader Gilles Bisson supported sending the three contractors and two unions to arbitration but not as an essential service.
“But I will not stand in this House and vote in favour of essential services legislation. I just can’t do that. It’s against all of my principles,” said Bisson.
Oak Ridges–Markham Liberal MPP Helena Jaczek, who was one of four York Region Liberal MPPs singled out by Shurman for “not having done their jobs”, read a letter sent to her that day from York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch.
“The transit providers have substantial offers on the table that include increases in salary, sick days and benefits,” Jaczek read.
Shurman said that, during the debate, he proposed to amend the essential service aspect at the second reading of the bill. The bill did not reach a second reading.
“We believe in negotiation,” Moridi said during the debate. “The parties should come to the table and negotiate and come up with an acceptable solution to this issue.”
Shurman says the parties aren’t at the table.
“They’ve never been at the table in any meaningful way and certainly haven’t been for weeks,” said Shuman.
Shurman, as well as other MPPs like Moridi, believe the Municipality of York Region should ask for provincial intervention – an act the region has yet to do.
“They should come to the Ontario government and ask for help,” Moridi said. “They have never done that.”
Shurman now fears the strike may drag on into the New Year if action is not taken in the coming week.
“The request, if there’s going to be a request for intervention at the provincial level, has got to come quickly because this legislature is rising for winter break a week from Thursday and it wont sit again until the end of February,” said Shurman.