The City of Toronto’s failure to negotiate a fair contract has forced members of CUPE 2998 to vote overwhelming in favor of a strike if the city continues to demand harmful concessions from front-line community centre workers.

“CUPE members who work at our community centers are pivotal to our collective COVID-19 response and recovery and should be recognized as such” says Lainey Little, President of CUPE 2998. “We could be in a strike scenario in a matter of weeks if the City of Toronto continues its attempts to claw back our health benefits and make it even harder to access necessary paid sick leave.”

Community centres have long served to build safe, strong, and inclusive neighborhoods through tailored services including children and youth programs; counselling; and accessible space for individuals to build social bonds, organize, and engage with their respective communities.

CUPE 2998 centres specialize in supporting populations most often marginalized, including: LGBTQ2S+ communities, new Canadians, the elderly, low-income parents, at-risk youth, people with disabilities, black, Indigenous, people of colour, and more. The 519 on Church Street, for instance, provides targeted, inclusive services for LGBTQ2S+ communities who are more likely to experience social isolation and exclusion.

“Our members are proud to serve their communities across Toronto,” says Little. “Respect for these integral, frontline community centre workers needs to be a higher priority for the City of Toronto, who flat-out refuses the union’s modest and fair bargaining proposals.”

CUPE 2998 represents more than 250 workers at the Association of Community Centers (AOCC’s) scattered throughout the City of Toronto, including: the 519, Scadding Court Community Centre, Applegrove Community Complex, Cecil Community Centre, Central Eglinton Community Centre, Community Centre 55, Eastview Neighbourhood Community Centre, Waterfront Community Centre, Ralph Thornton Centre, and Swansea Town Hall.