Liberal underfunding has forced unfair working conditions on college faculty and let students down: NDP Education Critic

October 23, 2017

QUEEN’S PARK—On Monday, Ontario NDP Education critic Peggy Sattler demanded that the Wynne Liberals answer for chronic underfunding of Ontario colleges and work to bring colleges and faculty back to the bargaining table. Sattler backed the call of student leaders at eight Ontario colleges for a fair resolution to the labour dispute that is now entering its second week.

“On Friday Oct. 20, student leaders at eight Ontario colleges urged the government to get college administrators and striking faculty back to the bargaining table so that a negotiated settlement can be reached and 500,000 college students can return to their classrooms,” said Sattler.  “Students feel that they are caught in the middle. They worry whether they will be able to complete their program requirements. Many are paying both tuition and rent, and are understandably anxious about the financial burden they are carrying when their semester might be lost.”

In an open letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne released last week, Sattler and NDP Labour critic Cindy Forster urged the Liberal government to answer the call of Seneca, Humber, St. Clair, Mohawk, Niagara, Sheridan, Confederation and Fanshawe student leaders, by bringing colleges and faculty back to the bargaining table so that a fair settlement can be achieved. The NDP MPPs pointed to chronic underfunding as an underlying cause of the unfair working conditions forced upon faculty at post-secondary institutions.

“Provincial underfunding of Ontario colleges has resulted in tuition fees increased to the maximum, ballooning class sizes, and an explosion in the use of temporary, contract and part-time faculty — all of which puts quality of education at risk,” said Sattler. “College student enrolment is now at record highs, but full-time faculty have all but disappeared. 80% of faculty are part-time precarious workers, with no job security and no benefits, who must reapply for their jobs every four months. This is not fair to students and not fair to faculty.”

“What is this Liberal government prepared to do to ensure a fair negotiated agreement, that includes the resources necessary to implement equal pay for equal work in the college sector?” asked Sattler.