Col­leges will be re­quired to have stu­dent fund

Northern News (Kirkland Lake) - - NEWS - BRAD SHERRATT

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.

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