Liberals’ chronic underfunding of PSE at centre of York University strike

Queen’s Park, April 12, 2018 – With 3,000 members of CUPE 3903 in their sixth week of strike action, and with York University seeking binding arbitration, Ontario NDP postsecondary education critic Peggy Sattler called on the premier to show leadership and direct York to return to the bargaining table.

“One side is at the table and has been for the last six weeks. Yet York University — a publicly funded institution — sat down for just one day of bargaining,” Sattler said. “Will the Premier step up, show some leadership, and direct York University to get back to the table?”

CUPE representatives were at Queen’s Park this morning urging the university to exhaust all options and follow due process before resorting to binding arbitration. Ontario New Democrats blamed the labour dispute on the Wynne government’s legacy of inadequate labour laws and chronic underfunding of Ontario’s postsecondary sector.

“The root of the problem is years of underfunding of postsecondary education in Ontario — now the lowest in the country — that has led to an explosion of insecure, unstable and low-paid academic jobs, and undermined the quality of postsecondary education,” said Sattler.

Liberal underfunding of the postsecondary sector is compounded by labour laws that have failed to adequately protect workers in precarious, gig economy jobs. As a result, contract academic workers have little to no job security, and postsecondary labour disputes are becoming more frequent. Ultimately, it is students who are affected the most. 

“It’s not only Carleton and York where these issues have come to a head … Western Graduate Teaching Assistants may soon be on strike and other universities may follow,” warned Sattler.

“Speaker, after 15 years in office, why has this Liberal government allowed Ontario to sink to the bottom in terms of per-student funding for postsecondary education?”