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Strike looming for youth shelter serving hundreds in Toronto

Last Updated Nov 23, 2017 at 11:58 pm EDT

Turning Point Youth Services — an agency providing residential care and support to hundreds of young people in trouble with the law — may have to suspend services it provides.

The agency and the union representing its workers, CUPE Local 3501 are currently in contract talks with their employer. A strike deadline is set for 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 2 and the union is frustrated with how slow negotiations have been so far.

According to CUPE, workers have been without a contract for almost four years and David Hylton, President, CUPE Local 3501 says it’s surprising that talks are not moving forward.

“If the employer is genuinely negotiating and we are having movement and having those issues addressed at the bargaining table, there is no reason for us to move anywhere aside with continuing with the bargaining. We have the ability, as long as its mutually agreeable, to extend that date,” he said.

“The employer does know that, so we were very surprised that there essentially seems to be some contingency plan to lock us out or shut down the organization.

Turning Point Youth Services serves more than 200 youth in counselling services, residential care and shelters. If a strike does happen, the agency will suspend all of its services. Youth in shelters and those using the agency’s residential program will have to be displaced.

Currently, there are nine youth shelters in Toronto. According to the City of Toronto’s daily shelter census, 510 spots of the 518 available in those shelters are already taken.

Interim Executive Director Jason McCormack says they have contingency plan.

“We have met with the city and we have come up with a contingency plan. The city has additional spots, they can go over capacity at other shelters, so that’s what we are working with right now,” he said.

Negotiations are set to take place on Nov. 27.