Students return to class after 5 weeks of extended reading week.

Stone He - 1A Mechanical
Posted on: November 24, 2017

On Tuesday November 21, Ontario college students returned to their classrooms after nearly 5 weeks of college strike.

Currently, students now have an extended semester. This semester may go up until December 22, with some programs ending their fall semester well into January.

However, the strike had taken a toll on the students who’re preparing to write for career exams such as the paralegal entrance exam with the law society. In addition, some students in co-op are worried that they are not able to finish their on-the-job trainings in time.

Students affected by the strike can apply for a $500 hardship aid due to the strike, or receive a complete refund if they decided to withdraw from class within two weeks. However, those who received the aid stated that it was not enough to compensate for the anxiety the students felt during the past 5 weeks.

The decision to send the students back came from a bill that was past on Sunday. With the passing of the bill, the teachers agreed to end the strike and have the students return to class. The six-page bill was first introduced on November 16 to resume the college operations. However, due to the NDP’s refusal to vote for the bill, extra sessions were held in the Legislature, until Sunday.

Horvath, leader of the NDP, did not think this was the best option to resolve the problem, as she insisted that this legislation won’t assist with the underlying issues that led to the strike in the first place.

“I do not believe in back-to-work legislation,” stated Horvath. “New Democrats don’t believe in back-to-work legislation. It’s something we fundamentally think is a breach of peoples’ charter rights.”

On the other hand, the Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews said that the NDPs were unnecessarily prolonging the strike, and preventing the students from going back to the classroom.

“It’s very distressing to see the NDP be so disrespectful of students that they won’t even pass the legislation, that they’re… blocking the return to classes,” stated Matthews. He has also responded to Horvath’s anti-back-to-work legislation, saying that the strike could go on forever.

The strike started on October 16 due to the unfair treatment of part-time staff members in Ontario college campuses. In total, 12,000 professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians went on strike to protest for raising the full-time staff member count to 50%, as well as improved wages. The number of part-time teachers grew by 40%, while full time position openings went up by only 20%.

However, the strike has ended, and students are back in class. The problem with the growing number of part-time staff, low full-time openings, and the remaining problems that started the strike, remains unresolved. The union for Ontario’s college instructors will challenge the back-to-work legislation to bring more rights to part-time teachers.

College Strikes, finger pointing, unresolved issues – talk about an extended reading week!