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Union votes on tentative agreement for francophone daycares as strike enters second month

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Union members are voting on a tentative agreement to potentially end a month-long strike that has closed four francophone daycare centres in Ottawa.

The strike has affected daycare services run by the Centre d'appui et de prevention (Le CAP), which runs a number of services in the city for francophone families facing mental health, addiction and disabilities. The organization runs four daycare centres in Vanier and Sandy Hill as well as a number of family and youth services.

L'Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO), the union representing franco-Ontarian education workers, called for a strike for Le CAP local union 203 beginning on Nov. 7, demanding better working conditions and pay for workers.

"Le CAP and AEFO have reached a key milestone by concluding a principle agreement. This step signifies a pivotal moment in the negotiation of our first collective agreement, reflecting an ongoing effort towards a mutually beneficial accord," said an emailed statement by a Le Cap spokesperson.

Renée Penning’s 2-year-old son goes to Les petits frimousses garderie in Vanier, one of the daycares that has been closed. She says she has had to balance watching her son and working full-time.

"I had to let my employers know and we had to work around my schedule," she said.

"At that time, my husband was starting a new job, so there were a lot of changes."

Penning says there are many families who have lost income to take care of their child.

"They are working two jobs, and one of the partners can't work that second job, so they are losing quite a bit of income having their kid at home and have run out of paid vacation days, so they are really stuck," she said.

During the strike, only essential services are operational, including housing services and youth services at Collège La Cité.

"This tentative agreement is the result of a long process and could not have been achieved without our members' tenacity, commitment and solidarity," said AEFO’s director of communication services Melanie Routhier Boudreau in press release.

"They stayed focused on their demands to obtain working conditions that met the important services that they offer to the francophone community."

Education workers with Le CAP have been without a collective agreement since March 31, 2021, the union said.

Last month, the union rejected an offer by the organization saying in a statement, "Le CAP refuses to grant members a reasonable salary that is better aligned with the cost of living."

"A salary rise of six per cent for a four-year contract is unacceptable particularly without any salary adjustments retroactive to the end of the previous collective agreement."

Terms of the tentative agreement are not known, but results are expected to be announced at some point this weekend.

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