WHAT HAPPENED TODAY AT QUEEN’S PARK? Yesterday, the Government of Ontario introduced Bill 178, Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Labour Dispute Resolution Act, 2017. Once given Royal Assent, this Bill would immediately end any strike or lock-out and will provide a mechanism for a new collective agreement to be reached.
Today, the Bill went to second reading. This means each political party had the opportunity to debate the Bill. Tomorrow, the Bill will go to third reading where each party will have a final opportunity to debate the Bill again. Then, a vote will be held on whether the Bill will pass or not. If passed, the Bill will receive Royal Assent where the Lieutenant Governor signs it into law. Once signed, the Bill is law and the labour disruption will end immediately. All political parties have said students will be back in class this week.
The back-to-work legislation provides a mechanism for OPSEU and CEC to reach a new collective bargaining agreement. This means that faculty will return to the classroom this week, but OPSEU and CEC will also be forced to agree to a new deal with the help of a mediator-arbitrator. This deal is expected to be similar in length to previous collective agreements, meaning it will be in place for 3 or 4 years.
In the extremely unlikely scenario this Bill does not pass, the strike will continue. OPSEU and CEC could be expected to return to the negotiating table. Back-to-work legislation has only been enforced once before in the history of college faculty strikes (1984), and it was passed successfully.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR STUDENTS? If the Bill receives Royal Assent tomorrow, faculty will be asked back to work on Monday. We are hopeful students will be back in class on Tuesday. As a reminder, please keep checking your student email and your college’s social media channels. Semester-extensions and other updates are all college specific.
WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH THE STUDENT HARDSHIP FUND? CSA met with the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development yesterday to discuss details regarding the recently announced student hardship fund. CSA has advocated for all students to receive compensation. We have also asked for the Ministry to allow students the option to withdraw from their program and receive a tuition refund, should they feel unable, unconfident, or simply uninterested in continuing with an extended semester. CSA brought forward the fact that OSAP loans and grants will be affected by this strike, and some students may run out of money before their semester is completed due to extensions. The Ministry confirmed they are considering all impacts the strike has had on student’s OSAP loans and grants and will provide us with updates and final decisions on supports for these students as they are available. Visa extensions for international students were also discussed. The provincial and federal governments have confirmed students will be able to extend their visas, and the labour disruption will not affect their ability to stay in Canada. They have not, however, announced if international students are expected to pay the required fee to apply for a visa extension. The Ministry confirmed they would provide us with an answer for international students as soon as possible. The Ministry confirmed they would be working hard throughout the weekend to ensure details can be finalized, and potentially be implemented, early next week.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Joel Willett President College Student Alliance C: 705 957 2734 firstname.lastname@example.org
Emmaline Scharbach Communications Manager College Student Alliance C: 647 454 9951