Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario College Strike Cancels Classes for about Half a Million Students

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario College Strike Cancels Classes for about Half a Million Students

Article excerpt

Half a million students affected by Ontario college strike


TORONTO - Classes were cancelled for about half a million students in Ontario on Monday as faculty at the province's colleges went on strike.

The labour dispute involving more than 12,000 professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians began late Sunday, after the two sides couldn't resolve their differences by a deadline of 12:01 a.m. Monday. Both sides say there are no talks scheduled to end the dispute that involves Ontario's 24 colleges. Daytime classes at all colleges across the province were cancelled but many night classes continued.

The Ontario Public Services Employees Union says it is up to the College Employer Council, which bargains for the colleges, to restart talks. The union presented a proposal Saturday night that called for the number of full-time faculty to match the number of faculty members on contract but the colleges say it would add more than $250 million in costs each year. OPSEU bargaining team chair JP Hornick says the union remains ready to get back to negotiations.

"If the colleges approach the mediator, or us, and say they're finally willing to start talking then we would be at that table in a heartbeat," she said.

Hornick said the academic freedom and fairness for contract faculty remain the two biggest issues at the bargaining table. The union wants an even split between full time and contract faculty positions, adding that with a $1.2 billion funding surplus over the past decade it's not unaffordable for the province's colleges.

"The colleges are framing this as too costly," she said. "The proposals that we have put on are actually reasonable and in keeping with what's happening in post-secondary."

Don Sinclair, CEO of the College Employer Council, said the colleges have put a four-year-agreement that offers a 7.75 per cent pay increase on the table which it would like faculty to vote on.

"We have an offer that has no take aways and does ensure a reasonable increase to the faculty and partial load," he said. "So, I'm a little bit miffed, for lack of a better word."

Sinclair said he understands students will be frustrated by the strike, but urged them to be patient when crossing the picket lines. …

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