Ontario government to table back-to-work legislation to end college strike

Strike 1

The Ontario government is tabling back to work legislation to force college faculty back to class, but that process could take a few days.

She said if students are pushed back into the classroom they may suffer burn-out and won't get the education they paid for.

Responding to those concerns, the Liberal government attempted to pass the back-to-work legislation on Thursday night using a provision that allows bills with the unanimous consent of all parties to be fast-tracked.

The New Democrats say they believe the majority Liberal government has the ability to get the bill passed on Sunday.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) has announced that Ontario college faculty have rejected a contract offer from their employer.

About 12,000 college faculty members have been off the job since October 15 when talks first broke down between the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and the College Employer Council.

Faculty from 24 Ontario colleges voted both online and by telephone on the final offer that if accepted, would have effectively ended the strike.

It is now the longest-lasting college faculty strike in Ontario's history.

Ontario's college faculty strike has cast a new spotlight on an old issue - the question of whether this province is adequately funding its public colleges.

"I'll be happy to go back to work next week, for sure", he said. "We need to get them back immediately so that the semester can be saved".

In voting this week, 86 per cent of faculty voted to reject Council's November 6 offer.

OPSEU had recommended the colleges' contract proposal be rejected. But even if it doesn't know when the first day of classes will be, St. Lawrence College is already working to figure out how the rest of the semester and the academic year will play out.

PC Leader Patrick Brown released a statement, as well, blaming the premier for strike, but supporting back-to-work legislation.

Only full-time teachers are paid for out-of-class work such as prep and meeting with students, which means contract staff work for free if they do the same.

Lavoie said she was also anxious about how her course material can be condensed to finish the semester.

"While the government has not indexed college operating grants to inflation, over the past 15 years it has made substantial investments in the sector with per-student funding growth exceeding increases that would have been driven by inflation alone", she wrote.

College spokesperson John Fairley said the school won't be cramming coursework into the remaining weeks of the semester.

Meanwhile, Law firm Charney Lawyers filed a proposed class action against the 24 colleges Tuesday (Nov. 14), saying 14 students have come forward to potentially stand as representative plaintiffs. It seeks full refunds for students who choose not to continue with their programs and refunds "equivalent to the value of the lost instruction" for students who do want to continue.

Related News: