QUEEN’S PARK – NDP Education Critic Peggy Sattler says the Wynne Liberals are failing Ontario students affected by a province-wide labour dispute.
On Tuesday, Sattler demanded that the Wynne Liberals explain how students will be compensated for losses related to the strike. Settler also demanded to know why Wynne has been threatening back-to-work legislation, undermining the potential for a fair deal to be reached.
“500,000 college students have paid tuition, purchased textbooks, and in many cases, are paying rent,” said Sattler. “But with the college strike in week three and this Liberal government refusing to act to get the parties to the table, many students fear they will lose their semester, and will have to go deeper into debt to complete their program.”
Faculty say that increasing reliance on part-time, contract instructors is worsening the quality of education students receive while eliminating job security; the colleges say they don’t have the money to meet demands.
“We all know that the root cause of this strike is the Liberal government’s chronic underfunding of the Ontario college system – the lowest per-student funding in Canada. Inaction from this government has allowed the strike to drag on and students are suffering as a result,” continued Sattler.
Educators and activists are concerned that the government intends to file back-to-work legislation, forcing faculty into an unfair contract instead of addressing underlying funding issues. At the same time, students are worried about the personal financial impact the strike is having.
“Some students are considering class action lawsuits to get their tuition back, and 120,000 students have signed a petition calling for a tuition refund for each day missed because of the strike,” said Sattler. “How is this Liberal government going to compensate students who are being financially penalized because of this strike?
“Does this government seriously think that threatening back-to-work legislation is a productive way to get the parties to the table, so that a fair, negotiated settlement can be reached?”