WHAT HAPPENED IN THE HOUSE?
Today, the Government of Ontario introduced Bill 178, Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Labour Dispute Resolution Act, 2017. Once given Royal Assent, this Act would immediately end any strike or lock-out and will provide a mechanism for a new collective agreement to be reached. This means faculty will return to the classroom and work under the previous collective agreement, which will be in place until a new agreement is reached. OPSEU and CEC can agree to a neutral mediator-arbitrator, or one can be appointed by the Minister of Labour. The mediator-arbitrator will resolve all matters remaining in the dispute between OPSEU and CEC, with the result being a new collective agreement.
The government asked for unanimous consent to begin debating the Bill today, but did not receive it. Instead, the Bill will begin to be debated tomorrow, starting at 1 p.m. at Queen's Park. At this time, it is hard to say when the Bill will be passed, as proceedings can get tied up. CSA is hopeful the Bill will be passed in time for students to return to the classroom early next week. All political parties have expressed their desire to see students back in the classroom soon.
Again, we encourage all students to monitor their college’s and on-campus student association’s official social media accounts, and student email, to hear the most up-to-date information specific to them. College-specific updates may include when students will be expected to return to campus, when classes are to fully resume, and semester-extension plans.
WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH THE STUDENT HARDSHIP FUND? CSA met with the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development today 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: Emmaline Scharbach Communications Manager College Student Alliance C: 647 454 9951