Colleges will be required to have student fund
KIRKLAND LAKE - Union Local 653 Lad Shaba is applauding Minister of Advanced Education Dec Matthewss decision to require colleges to establish a dedicated fund with all the savings from the strike, that will go to the students.
“Throughout this process, I think the Council and the government took the students for granted . The strike should not have been this protracted by the Council. Reading students’ response, I believe they want their tuition back period. If this will help an end the strike remains to be seen. For one thing, we hope the savings will not turn into executive bonuses. The students have suffered enough.”
Late last week Provincial Minister of Advanced Education Dec Matthews announced Friday that colleges will be required to 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.
In a press release Matthews stated “since the strike began, I have been clear that my focus is on students and their learning. I have had the opportunity to meet with a number of student leaders and their provincial associations. I have heard from them about hardships students are experiencing as a result of this strike. Students have been in the middle of this strike for too long and it’s just not fair.
“While every student’s situation is unique, all students are struggling with continued uncertainty. They are worried about how to pay for unexpected costs like additional rent or canceling longstanding travel plans to be home with family. They’ve told me they are stressed about when they will be able to complete their studies or if there will be any extra help when classes finally resume.
“I will work with students and colleges starting immediately to develop the parameters of the fund. We need to work out the details together and we will do it quickly. I have just spoken with student leadership from the College Student Alliance and have asked them for their advice and for feedback from their membership. I’m looking for the best ideas about how to make sure this reinvestment directly benefits students who have faced hardship.
“This is a challenging time for everyone, but particularly for students. So, in the coming days, 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.
“Striking Ontario college faculty are applauding a move by Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews that will make the colleges put the money saved as a result of the strike into a special fund for students. Matthews announced the plan late Friday.
The announcement is welcome news from union members. “What Minister Matthews has done is exactly what faculty were asking for in the petition we launched earlier this week,” said JP Hornick, chair of the faculty bargaining team for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). “Anything that will help students get through this difficult time is more than welcome, and we thank the minister for moving ahead with it.”
More than 12,000 college faculty at 24 public colleges went on strike October 16. The union is calling for job security and better wages for contract faculty, more full-time jobs, and a greater say for faculty in academic decisions. The bargaining team is calling on faculty to reject a concession-filled offer in voting scheduled for next week.
“Our students come to college so they can get good jobs when they leave,” Hornick said. “We would not be doing our duty to them if we didn’t show that we will stand up for good jobs for the professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians who are helping them learn.”
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said the government’s plan to treat students fairly should be matched by moves by the colleges to treat faculty fairly.
“It’s important to remember that the fund the minister has announced is being paid for by faculty, not by the colleges,” he said. “I can’t see why the colleges still refuse to bargain, still refuse to agree to no-cost items, and insist on clawing money out of the classroom through their demands for concessions.