There’s a calm before the storm this morning, as observers wait to see the results of the session of the Ontario provincial legislature scheduled for one o’clock this afternoon.

The legislature is expected to take up back-to-work legislation aimed at ending the 81-day York University strike. The two largest parties in the legislature are on record in support of the bill, but with the New Democratic Party opposed, it is likely to be days, perhaps weeks, before any legislation takes effect.

Higher education writer Joey Coleman argues this morning that a brief delay is a good thing, as it will give the union, CUPE local 3903, one last chance to strike a deal and avoid binding arbitration. He’s hoping to see NDP agree to let the law be enacted on Wednesday if the union doesn’t approve a deal on Tuesday.

The Toronto Star is reporting that if the bill does pass on Wednesday, classes will not resume at York until Monday, February 2.

Meanwhile, the text of the bill has been posted on several blogs. It would impose fines of $2000 a day against individuals who continue to strike in the face of the back-to-work order.

2:20 pm Update: As expected, the eight NDP members of the provincial legislature voted against the back-to-work bill. The Star is now reporting that a final vote is “likely later this week or early next week.”

2:35 pm Update: As the York Strike 2008 blog points out, union spokesperson Tyler Shipley is quoted in the Star as saying that CUPE is looking into challenging the back-to-work order in the courts. 

2:40 pm Update: More from the Star — applications to York for the fall semester, previously reported to be down 15%, are now said to have slipped 26% in the faculty of arts, York’s liberal arts division, and by as much as 40% in some graduate programs. The university is anticipating that the decline in admissions will lead to decreased enrollment, and consequently to faculty cutbacks.