College students launch lawsuit

Ontario college faculty hold a rally outside the Labour Relations Board on University Avenue on Nov. 16 2017. CITYNEWS  Josef Fazio

Confederation College student union president Jodi Afonso, who was part of a contingent of student association leaders to meet with Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews at Queen's Park earlier this week, urged both the colleges and educators to work together and come up with a fair agreement.

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

There will be no end in sight for the longest college strike in Ontario's history as faculty across the province overwhelmingly rejected the province's latest offer.

Students protesting the ongoing faculty strike at St. Clair College in hopes of saving their semesters had some harsh words for their teachers after the employees voted against a deal Thursday. Individual colleges have already set preemptive plans in place in the event that faculty would vote in favour of the contract offer, which will no longer be valid.

The move comes after the premier asked the College Employer Council, which represents the province's 24 colleges, and the union representing striking faculty to return to the bargaining table Thursday.

The College Employer Council asked the Ontario Labour Relations Board to schedule a vote on the contract after talks broke down last week.


The 12,000 college professors, instructors, counsellors and librarians have been off the job since October 15, leaving some 500,000 students out of class.

In the meantime, the provincial government has ordered colleges to create a program, using money saved from the strike, to help students experiencing financial hardship. There are so many students who are living off campus, paying rent and full tuition for what has become only one class. "In that case, there might be a few programs that we actually do decide we're past that threshold".

While none of this will likely satisfy anxious students, those concerned about the financial impact of the strike might be happy to be reminded that the province is creating something of a "hardship fund" for students adversely affected by the disruption.

As a next step, the college bargaining team will be in touch with the provincially appointed mediator to seek his direction to the parties.

"We are approaching the time where we will start to see people with lost semesters but we are not there yet", she said.

A proposed class-action lawsuit over the ongoing college strike has been launched on behalf of students affected by the dispute.

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