As day three of the union strike for Ontario’s 24 public colleges arrives, its members are preparing for a long road ahead.
At Ontario’s parliament in Toronto, politicians on both sides of the aisle have urged the Ontario Employers Council and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union to return to the bargaining table for the sake of the students.
“Of course we want both sides to get back to the table,” said Deb Matthews, the minister in charge of the post-secondary education portfolio at Queen’s Park.
“We want students back in the classroom as quickly as possible.”
Back-to-work legislation that would put pressure on the union members to return to their jobs is not on the table yet, said Ms. Matthews on Tuesday.
“We have to let the collective bargaining process work and give it the space to do that,” Matthews, a Liberal MPP, told reporters after Question Period.
“But it’s very important for students that they do get back to the table and find a resolution and get students back in the classroom.”
Progressive Conservative Party leader Patrick Brown said the college system is in need of “provincial leadership” so that students find themselves in the classroom again.
The New Democratic Party education critic Peggy Sattler said that “faculty want fairness and students want opportunities to learn.”
Ms. Sattler criticized the Liberal government for not working to get students back at the public colleges.
Due to a deadline passing for negotiations between OPSEU and the Ontario Employers Council on Sunday, a strike came into effect on Oct. 16.
Some 500,000 students across the province don’t have physical classes for the duration of the strike.
College staff are paid a stipend from a union pool funded by dues paid over the time of their union membership if they participate in striking, either through picketing or otherwise.
The University of Guelph-Humber is also shut down because they could not provide the full programs to students due to employing several college faculty members.
Meanwhile, a Change.org petition for student tuition refunds has racked up 45,000 signatures since The Post first reported on it Monday.
However, a staffer for the university faculty union for Guelph-Humber made clear ithe school would likely not engage in tuition refunds.
University of Guelph staff at GH continue to be paid in full, and are encouraged to stay in contact with their students.
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More details to follow. Image 1 of striking faculty on Oct. 16, 2017 from the Toronto Star.