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Ontario Colleges Strike Affects Eighty Akwesasronon


Students and faculty at the October 26 rally held at St. Lawrence College.

Nearing the end of Week 4 of the Ontario Colleges Strike, an announcement was made on Monday, November 6, 2017 by the College Employer Council (CEC), which represents the provinces 24 colleges, that a vote would take place between November 14 and November 16. The news of a vote came just hours after the Ontario Public Sector Employees Union, representing the 12,000 college workers, held a news conference. The president of OPSEU Warren Thomas said the union believed a deal was close after negotiations continued over the weekend.

According to national media, significant moves to address all issues were made and the College Employer Council should have accepted the offer on the table.

The Ministry of Labour manages the vote and voting will be conducted by electronic ballot to ensure the maximum number of faculty can take part. A vote of 50 per cent plus one is all that is required to accept the deal and end the strike. Results are not expected until days after that, when the strike will be in its 5th or 6th week.

During a news conference, the head of the College Employer Council said that the timing of the vote "virtually guarantees that hundreds of thousands of college students will lose their semester."

The strike, affecting 500,000 students at 24 public colleges across the province, began October 16. The strike affects students in a variety of ways: delayed diplomas and certificates, standing job offers, travel, education and work visas, and financially. Many students and/or their parents have taken out loans to pay for college, now many are demanding a refund. But it's not as simple as Ontario College cutting thousands of checks since the Ministry of Education handles the money and they have to make that decision.

Ohentiioa Lahache-Deering and two practical nursing faculty members at St. Lawrence College on October 26. A major rally also took place in Toronto on November 2nd.

Ohentiioa Lahache-Deering, a student who graduated from the St. Lawrence College Practical Nursing program and now a first year BScN student, is an active supporter of the strike. She recently delivered a speech at a rally in front of MPP Jim McDonell's office located at 120 Second St. in Cornwall.

She fully supports the academic freedom teachers are asking for stating, "Faculty are the ones who know what students need. We are being taught by faculty who have expertise in their perspective fields, why do they not have more academic freedom to decide the content, design and delivery of their courses? Shouldn't the people who know and understand what we need have greater freedom to teach us that?"

She also added, "Nearly 3 out of 4 Ontario college faculty are working on contracts every 4 months. We as students are pursuing an education in an attempt to avoid the precarious working conditions that are being imposed upon the majority of faculty who deliver our education. The College Faculty have taken a stand not only for themselves but for their colleagues and for future faculty and for that I stand with them."


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