03/08/2012 02:06 EST | Updated 05/08/2012 05:12 EDT

No board report issued in dispute between Toronto and its inside workers

TORONTO - Contract talks with Toronto's inside workers are coming to a head, as the province has issued a "no board" report to the city.

That starts the clock ticking toward a legal strike or lockout after 17 days.

Labour Minister Linda Jeffrey confirmed Thursday that the report was sent to the city.

"Our staff are always available to converse with either the employer or the employees," Jeffrey said.

"Certainly, we encourage them to get back to the table to have those conversations because we know the best deals are the ones that happen at the table, that they negotiate."

Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said he is still optimistic that the dispute can still be solved at the bargaining table.

Deadlines like this give both sides more focus to hammer out a deal, he said.

Contingency plans are in place in case the city's inside workers strike or are locked out, he said. Those workers include lifeguards, daycare workers and inspectors, among others.

(The Canadian Press, CFRB)