CNE assures that security is a ‘top priority’ after concerns raised before the opening

As the CNE prepares to open this Friday, a Toronto MPP expresses concern that security could be compromised at the 18-day fair due to a strike by ride and equipment inspectors.

On July 21, 170 inspectors from the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) went on strike after contract negotiations with their employer, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), failed.

Since then, organizers of fairs, festivals and other major events, such as the CNE, have had to bring in outside inspectors and consultants to ensure that their rides and equipment meet all safety standards.

On Saturday morning, Downtown Toronto MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam took to Twitter to share her thoughts on the situation.

Speaking to CP24 on Sunday morning, he said the absence of dedicated TSSA security inspectors checking rides and other equipment at the upcoming CNE equates to “less duty of care.”

She said that due to the work stoppage, the operator of Canada’s largest annual event was forced to use outside consultants and contractors to carry out these important safety inspections.

“When we’re going to compromise public safety, we really can’t take any chances,” Wong-Tam said.

“The CNE, of course, we all love this amusement park. It’s a big draw for the city of TO, but we want to make sure people are safe.”

Wong-Tam said that under the current agreement, there is no guarantee that safety inspections will be carried out with the same level of diligence. To illustrate her point, the Toronto MPP pointed to an August 5 incident involving a ride at the Campbellford Fair, which she said injured three children.

She said the organizers of that event would have issued the “same kind of assurances to members of the public.”

In the end, Wong-Tam said the goal is for both sides to “come back to the table” and come to a contract agreement to get TSSA security screeners back to work as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, the CNE assures the public that it will continue to uphold the “highest security standards in the industry,” even though security inspectors are on strike.

Darrell Brown, director general of the CNE, said public safety is a “top priority,” calling Wong-Tam’s claim that safety cannot be guaranteed “wrong.”

“We don’t think there is any security issue and we would question what Ms. Wong-Tam is suggesting,” he said during an interview Sunday afternoon with CP24.

In a statement, Brown said that after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the CNE has been “carefully preparing for the return of the Fair to ensure that any possible work interruptions do not significantly affect our operations or compromise the security of our staff, suppliers and customers. .”

“Each year the amusement rides and food facilities at the CNE are inspected by the regulatory authorities before and during the 18 days of the Fair. TSSA management has taken proactive steps, including traveling to other Fair sites to conduct inspections prior to the arrival of equipment at the CNE,” he noted, adding that the CNE also “dedicates a significant amount of resources to deploying its own external security consultants and certified engineers to ensure that all attractions and facilities at the event exceed security standards.”

“We want to assure our sponsors that the CNE is safe; regardless of the ongoing labor dispute between TSSA and OPSEU,” he said.

Like Wong-Tam, Brown also hopes the two sides will meet soon and come to a contract agreement “so that TSSA can return to full staff to facilitate its role in protecting the industry.”

Despite the labor action, TSSA said, “comprehensive plans are in place for us to meet our security mandate during the strike.”

“Rest assured that any operating entertainment device with a valid TSSA clearance has had the required annual inspection,” the governing body said in a July 29 tweet.

In a July 21 statement, TSSA said it would continue to respond to serious security incidents and inspect any sites classified as high risk.

The safety inspectors’ governing body said it would also be available to provide services for critical infrastructure such as hospitals and long-term care homes. Despite continuing to offer non-inspection services such as engineering, examinations, licensing, TSSA will not conduct expedited or urgent engineering reviews during the strike.

“Every effort will be made to minimize any disruption to business as much as possible,” TSSA said, adding that they want to reach an agreement with OPSEU and have been “engaging in good faith negotiations” with them since last fall in an unsuccessful effort to “finalize a first collective agreement for inspectors”.

“To avoid a strike, the TSSA negotiating team provided OPSEU with a comprehensive proposal that includes all the terms for a first collective agreement and offers inspectors excellent health, dental and pension benefits, and salary increases for a multi-year agreement. Laura said. Desjardins, Vice President, Human Resources.

“Given the reasonable and fair contract we have offered and our availability for ongoing discussions, TSSA does not see why the inspectors have chosen to strike. Our approach is to negotiate in good faith, to reach a fair agreement and to avoid any interruption. Unfortunately, the union stopped negotiating directly with TSSA after the first few meetings and gave indications of their intentions to strike. We are concerned about deliberately false communications from OPSEU that suggest we are not negotiating in good faith.”

CP24 has also contacted OPSEU for comment, but has not yet received a response.

The Canadian National Exhibition kicks off this Friday and runs through Labor Day, Monday, September 5.

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