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Strike shuts down Hay River’s summer programs for kids

The Town of Hay River is cancelling summer programming for children as a labour dispute continues.

In a statement on Monday, the town said its Summer Heat program would not be returning this summer.

In previous years, Summer Heat has offered the town’s children an eight-week camp between July and August.

Up to 60 places on the camp are usually available – and in demand. Spaces have been known to sell out within hours, with late applicants placed on wait lists.

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This year, none of that programming will exist.

“It is our intention to provide adequate notice of this change in programming so that members of the community who were planning to participate in this year’s Summer Heat program may make alternative plans,” read the town’s statement.

“We remain committed to ending the strike through negotiations, and are willing to continue bargaining with the union at any point.”

The strike in Hay River, now more than three months old, involves more than 30 town staff at odds with their employer over future pay increases.

Read: Hay River strike: Town declines binding arbitration

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The latest round of talks broke down over a union-issued ultimatum. The town has since rejected the union’s suggestion of third-party binding arbitration.

Now, the town says it has no choice but to cancel summer programming, in the absence of staff and with picket lines threatened at all events.

In addition, the town said it was “taking steps” to ensure the safety of Hay River’s fields and parks this summer.

“During the labour dispute, the town will be using local contractors on an as-and-when basis to conduct inspections on the playground equipment and provide groundskeeping services in public spaces throughout town,” Monday’s statement continued.

“We feel it is important that the youth of our community have the opportunity to play in a safe and enjoyable environment, free from dangerous debris and faulty equipment.”

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