Canada 'Hardship fund' announced for students caught in college strike

08:07  11 november  2017
08:07  11 november  2017 Source:   Windsor Star

College students demand refund amid faculty strike

  College students demand refund amid faculty strike A group of students who have been out of classes since Oct. 16, have planned a rally of their own Tuesday alongside their striking teachers at St. Clair College. Many of them are fed up with the dispute and unhappy with the contingency plan. St. Clair College shortens holiday break in response to staff strike "We can't stand for that," said Betty Sylvain, a first year accounting student at St. Clair College. "All we ask for is we pay for 15 weeks and we'd like to get what we paid for."As a single mother who uses student loans to pay tuition, she feels cheated in many ways.

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111017-no_object-238202807-Strike_-_02-W.jpg: Faculty from St. Clair College walk the picket line at the main campus, Oct. 30, 2017.© Dax Melmer, Windsor Star Faculty from St. Clair College walk the picket line at the main campus, Oct. 30, 2017.

Ontario’s Liberal government announced Friday it will help students who are struggling financially due to the faculty strike at community colleges.

Advanced Education and Skills Development Minister Deb Matthews has instructed colleges to establish funds out of the savings they accrue from not paying their faculty to support students finding themselves in financial hardship.

“All students are struggling with continued uncertainty,” Matthews said in a released statement.

“They are worried about how to pay for unexpected costs like additional rent or cancelling long-standing travel plans to be home with family.

500,000 students 'caught in the crossfire' during Ontario college strike

  500,000 students 'caught in the crossfire' during Ontario college strike From mental health issues to concerns about graduation, many students say they're frustrated amid the strike involving 12,000 college workers. "Those of us with anxiety and depression often cope by being busy," said the 24-year-old.

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“That is why I am requiring that colleges establish a dedicated fund with all the savings from the strike. The fund will be used to support students who have experienced financial hardships as a result of the strike.”

The strike by 12,000 faculty is entering its fifth week and has resulted in cancelled classes for 500,000 full- and part-time students in Ontario.

Faculty will vote Nov. 14-16 on the College Employer Council’s latest offer. The council represents the 24 colleges in Ontario.

OPSEU, the union representing faculty, has urged its membership to reject the offer. Academic freedom is considered the key stumbling block remaining in negotiations.

College Employer Council CEO Don Sinclair wasn’t available for comment on Matthews announcement. John Fairley, St. Clair College’s vice-president of communications, also offered no comment on the plan.

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THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young. The Ontario government has ordered the province’s colleges to create a fund to help students who may be experiencing financial hardship because of a faculty strike that has cancelled classes for a month.

“This is an issue for Toronto to sort out,” said Fairley, who also declined to comment on how much the college is saving in not paying faculty salaries.

Matthews’ announcement was also vague on how much the colleges need to set aside and who will qualify for financial assistance.

Matthews said she plans to meet with student leaders and their provincial associations along with the colleges to try and flesh out a plan.

“We need to work out the details together, and we will do it quickly,” Matthews said.

“This is a challenging time for everyone, but particularly for students. I look forward to working directly with student leaders and colleges on how we can lessen the impact of the strike on students. They deserve our support.”

dwaddell@postmedia.com

Bill to end Ontario college strike passes .
TORONTO - Ontario has passed back-to-work legislation, ending a five-week college strike and paving the way for students to return to class. The Liberal government first attempted to introduce the bill Thursday evening, after restarted talks between the colleges and the faculty's union reached an impasse. But unanimous consent of all parties was needed, and the NDP refused, leading the government to introduce the legislation Friday. It was debated The Liberal government first attempted to introduce the bill Thursday evening, after restarted talks between the colleges and the faculty's union reached an impasse.

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