FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) has gone on strike. The strike, which comes after an impasse at the bargaining table earlier this week, is currently affecting schools, correctional facilities, ferries and adult and child protection services provided by social workers. Additional effects across other sectors could occur in the coming days.

“CUPE has chosen to take this step,” said Premier Blaine Higgs. “A fair offer was on the table this week that included more than just wage increases. I would like to believe that the full package has been shared with the entire membership.”

Contingency plans have been implemented in effected areas to protect the public’s health and safety, however services will be affected by the strike.

Education system

All schools across the province are having an operational day today. Students stayed home and school staff reported to work. Teachers and staff are preparing for a move to home learning, similar to the process used during COVID-19 outbreaks. Beginning on Monday, Nov. 1, all schools across the province will move to home learning. Students will continue to learn from home until the strike is over. More information will be communicated directly to parents by the school system this weekend.

Early learning and child-care facilities located within a school will communicate with parents directly regarding any impact that the strike may have on their services.

Travel and transportation

Ferry service delays are to be expected across the province. Motorists can check for updates regarding any impact to ferry services, by calling 511, checking the NB511 Twitter page or the NB511 website.

Justice system

The CUPE locals involved in the strike include most workers in correctional facilities as well as probation officers, victim services co-ordinators, and some support and maintenance personnel. However, the provincial government has contingency plans for strikes which allow for essential services to continue. A percentage of workers are designated essential and required to work during a strike.

Social services

The Department of Social Development is monitoring the strike and has contingency plans to maintain essential services. Non-urgent services such as supervised visits or visit planning may be affected, but any children or adult at risk will be protected. Any urgent call to child protection will be acted upon. Social assistance cheques will not be affected by the strike.

Health care

The Department of Health, the regional health authorities and Extra-Mural/Ambulance New Brunswick have contingency plans in the event labour disruptions affect health services. However, there are no additional designated essential workers for the new services established to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, labour disruptions targeting COVID-19 services would result in a significant reduction in the health system’s capacity to provide COVID-19 screening for access to hospitals, COVID-19 assessment and PCR testing, laboratory services and vaccination.

The health partners will work in partnership with Public Health New Brunswick to focus the reduced COVID-19 services to target the populations at highest risk.