Strike Ending Legislation Ends College Labour Dispute

Students demonstrate outside the Ontario Legislature in Toronto on Wednesday

Leader Andrea Horwath says, "The NDP is pleased colleges will start opening Monday, but say that Kathleen Wynne's choice - to allow the strike to drag on for five weeks while doing nothing at all, then forcing faculty back to work without a deal - was the worst possible way she could have handled the strike".

About 500,000 students have been out of the classroom since October 15 after contract talks broke off between the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), which represents striking staff, and the College Employer Council, which represents Ontario's 24 colleges.

College students who decide to drop out because of the faculty strike will be able to get full tuition refunds.

But, the student groups said the management was trying to condense five missed weeks into roughly two extra ones, and that would be very stressful, according to CBC News. The province's 24 colleges will be expected to foot the bill for the refund, she said.

The bill requires the current strike at Ontario's colleges to be terminated, and prevents any additional strikes or lock-outs arising from the dispute until a new collective agreement is signed.

"You don't know what to study, and a lot of students feel this way", she said last week.

The fund will allow full time domestic and global students to receive up to $500 unexpected costs they incurred, such as additional child care fees, rebooked train or bus tickets, or January rent.

Don Sinclair, CEO of the College Employer Council, which bargained on behalf of the province's colleges, said every school will have a different approach on how it structures the remainder of the semester.

In a statement issued Monday, the College Student Alliance said they are thankful that students will have the option for a full refund if they choose to withdraw.

But the NDP says these offerings are paltry given the financial stresses and academic uncertainty suffered by students during the five-week-long strike.

The fall semester at many schools will be extended into the week starting December 18, with some colleges like George Brown finishing as late as December 22.

"I'm hearing from students who are in an absolute panic over how they are ever going to be able to manage this compressed and accelerated semester", she said.

JP Hornick, chair of OPSEU's faculty bargaining team, says the timeline leaves little chance for quality education.

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