TORONTO, Nov. 21, 2017 /CNW/ - On Sunday, November 19, the provincial government passed a back-to-work legislation, effectively ending the five-week long strike of Ontario public college faculty. This decision follows a 95 per cent turnout of Ontario Public Services Employee Union (OPSEU) members with an 86 per cent majority vote rejecting the most recent contract offer proposed by the College Employer Council.
Ontario public college faculty have been on strike for five weeks following a breakdown in collective bargaining negotiations between OPSEU, representing over 12,000 professors, instructors, counsellors and librarians, and the College Employer Council, representing public college employers across the province.
Chronic underfunding has led to multiple barriers for both students and faculty within college classrooms, with little accountability or support from government or institution administrations. These financial circumstances coupled with a crisis in college governance led to the breakdown in bargaining that triggered the strike.
The back-to-work legislation poses many challenges as the demands and concerns around working conditions of college faculty workers have not been addressed, therefore college students will not receive the quality of post-secondary education that they deserve. Students recognize that the working conditions of faculty reflect the learning conditions of their education.
Students are now faced with the difficult decision to either abandon this remaining semester or finish this shortened term. With the shortened semester, students who choose to finish this term are now expected to complete five week's worth of course work in two week's time. This not only reduces the quality of education, but also further contributes to the unnecessary stress and mental health crisis that students face on campus.
These issues are further compounded for international students who pay significantly higher tuition fees than domestic students. International students also hold restricted study permits that impose a limited timeline to complete their studies. These students now face the difficulties in renewing or extending their study permit and the cost associated with these changes. Additionally, international students who choose to forfeit this semester must contend with the financial burden of living costs.
"As students are returning to class today, we wish it was under better circumstances," said Nour Alideeb, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students – Ontario. "The provincial government recently introduced Bill 148 to create fair workplaces and better jobs but with the back-to-work legislation however, the government has taken a regressive step from its promise to ensure job security."
"Ontario public college faculty have long asked for better working conditions, full-time job status and fair wages," said Alideeb. "The time is now. All workers deserve equal pay for equal work."
The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario is the largest and oldest student organization in Ontario, representing more than 350,000 college and university students in all regions of the province.
SOURCE Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario