Nick, when DRT and CAW had their strike the union offer to continued to operate the Specialized Service division. The Region turned them down. Then as part of the settlement both sides wrote into the contract that Specialized Service, in the event of a future strike, would be an essential service and would continue to operate.
When we talk transit, we seem to forget that most urban transit operate a handi trans service. Not being able to get to your dialysis appointment, should be enough of a reason to declare transit an essential service. Right now, Brantford's handi trans drivers are on strike. The city council does not like it one bit. The work is contracted out and the city as very little control over the strike.
Should the Ontario Government legislate them back to work? Yes of course. The Government is supposed to interfere and take part when the safety of others is at risk. Certainly when a person can't get to their life saving treatment this should be enough of a reason.
Maybe it's time for the people of Ontario to ask why only the transit users in Toronto get special status when it comes to transit strikes. The government falls short of declaring the TTC an essential service but still the workers are forced back to work in a matter of days. This happens to no other transit service in Ontario. What gives?
Related link: The question is - essential or not?