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Toronto Canadian National Exhibition head says labour lock out will cost the fair $1.5-million

Picketing workers from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees walk the picket line in front of the Canadian National Exhibition on Aug. 19, 2018.

COLE BURSTON/The Canadian Press

The CEO of the Canadian National Exhibition says the annual fair taking place in Toronto could lose about $1.5 million due to an ongoing labour dispute that has led to picket lines outside the event grounds.

About 400 stagehands and technical workers employed by Exhibition Place – where the CNE is a tenant – have been locked out since July 20.

In a letter to Toronto’s mayor and city councillors this week, the CEO of the CNE said her organization was concerned about the labour dispute, saying it had discouraged ticket sales.

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Virginia Ludy says in the letter that she expects significant loss in revenue and increased expenses as a result.

The president of the union representing the locked-out workers says he has not heard back from Exhibition Place’s board of governors for more than a month and hopes to get back to the negotiating table soon.

The board, which brought in outside workers to set up and supervise various events at the fair, has said it wants to update the employees’ contract to reflect what it called the “highly competitive” marketplace.

Toronto Mayor John Tory has said all sides want to ensure the CNE is successful.

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