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A Toronto Transit Commission streetcar.Emma Ewing-Nagy/The Globe and Mail

Ontario's Liberal government says it will fight a union attempt to strike down a 2011 law declaring the Toronto Transit Commission an essential service, which took away its workers' right to strike.

The Amalgamated Transit Union is asking the Ontario Court of Appeal to declare the TTC's essential service designation unconstitutional, and says it expects the case to end up before the Supreme Court of Canada.

Union local president Bob Kinnear says the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would be hollow if it can be ignored simply because "it may be inconvenient to get around the city" during a transit strike.

Transportation Minister Kevin Flynn says 1.5 million people rely on Toronto's transit system every day, and in the government's opinion, it remains an essential service.

He says the province has not considered declaring GO Transit an essential service, something the Progressive Conservatives say should be looked at.

Flynn says the province enacted the TTC essential service designation four years ago at the request of Toronto city council, and the government "intends to defend itself" in court.