Get back to the bar­gain­ing ta­ble, premier warns

Wynne says she ‘ex­pects’ col­leges and union to reach a deal be­fore se­mes­ter is jeop­ar­dized


Premier Kath­leen Wynne is not rul­ing out back-towork leg­is­la­tion for 12,000 col­lege fac­ulty now on strike, while warn­ing she and Min­is­ter of Ad­vanced Ed­u­ca­tion and Skills De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Deb Matthews “ex­pect” both sides to get back to bar­gain­ing and ham­mer out a deal.

“We re­ally do not want stu­dents to lose their term,” Wynne said Mon­day morn­ing in down­town Toronto.

“And you know my ex­pec­ta­tion and the min­is­ter’s ex­pec­ta­tion is that both sides of this ne­go­ti­a­tion will find a way to get back to the ta­ble to re-en­gage be­cause that’s where the agree­ment has to be forged.”

The premier said she and Matthews are “work­ing as hard as we can to get them back. Never rule any­thing out in this busi­ness, but we re­ally would like to see the agree­ment at the ta­ble, and I think ev­ery­one knows that that is what we are en­cour­ag­ing right now. And in fact it’s beyond en­cour­age­ment. It re­ally is an ex­pec­ta­tion that both sides would find a way to get back to the ta­ble.”

Matthews said she has per­son­ally spo­ken to both the Col­lege Em­ployer Coun­cil and the On­tario Pub­lic Ser­vice Em­ploy­ees Union to con­vey this mes­sage. How­ever, no talks are sched­uled. Stu­dents across the province are grow­ing in­creas­ingly wor­ried about the im­pact the job ac­tion will have on their se­mes­ter. The strike is now in its third week for stu­dents at a num­ber of col­leges — although some had a pre­vi­ously sched­uled five-day read­ing week and have been out of class for only six days so far.

But for stu­dents in ap­pren­tice­ship and other pro­grams that man­date cer­tain hours for cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, any time away raises huge con­cerns given they need those hours in or­der to write pro­vin­cial ex­ams.

“We re­ally do not want stu­dents to lose their term.” PREMIER KATH­LEEN WYNNE

Cen­ten­nial Col­lege says it is “ac­tively work­ing” on how to han­dle pro­grams such as its post­grad­u­ate para­le­gal, where the re­quire­ments are set by the Law So­ci­ety of Up­per Canada.

“The is­sue is shared by other col­leges that of­fer this pro­gram,” said Veronique Henry, who chairs the col­lege’s Cen­tre for Le­gal and Ad­min­is­tra­tive Stud­ies.

Be­cause of the se­mes­ter break, stu­dents have missed six days in class to date, and “the col­lege is ac­tively work­ing on se­mes­ter re­cov­ery plan­ning. Depend­ing on the length of the strike, strate­gies for the para­le­gal pro­gram may in­clude sched­ul­ing classes in the evening and/or on week­ends, as well as ex­tend­ing the se­mes­ter end dates” to make up the time.

Henry said “th­ese strate­gies will en­sure that para­le­gal stu­dents have the op­por­tu­nity to meet the in­struc­tional hour re­quire­ments for this pro­gram and can then be per­mit­ted to ap­ply to write the law so­ci­ety li­cens­ing ex­ams.”

Also at Cen­ten­nial Col­lege, the chair of the au­to­mo­tive pro­gram said ac­com­mo­da­tions will be made for ap­pren­tice­ship stu­dents who started in-class work, as well as those who were sched­uled to start it when the strike hit.

But for Ry­ley Martinell at Flem­ing Col­lege in Peter­bor­ough, the un­cer­tainty of the sit­u­a­tion has put his fu­ture in jeop­ardy.

His school’s read­ing week just wrapped up, but he said there’s been no word on how the strike will im­pact the heat­ing/re­frig­er­a­tion/air con­di­tion­ing ex­ams he has to write in De­cem­ber so he can get out in the work­force.

“We’ve had two emails since the strike started, from Flem­ing to all stu­dents,” the 22-year-old said. “They’ve been gen­eral up­dates. They don’t re­ally have any in­for­ma­tion . . . We’ve been com­pletely in the dark” on the trade pro­gram.

“The only thing I can see now is that we are not go­ing to be done be­fore the New Year,” he added. “To be able to get the ex­ams, they are pro­vin­cial li­cences, and to be able to qual­ify for the ex­ams, you have to have so many hours. By miss­ing th­ese classes we don’t have the lab time we are go­ing to need.”

Flem­ing Col­lege says it is look­ing to ex­tend the se­mes­ter in De­cem­ber.

“Stu­dents are right­fully con­cerned about the im­pact of the strike on their learn­ing and their pro­grams,” said Drew Van Parys, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of mar­ket­ing and ad­vance­ment, adding longer days are also an op­tion.

Matthews said the gov­ern­ment “has no in­ten­tion” of in­tro­duc­ing back-to-work leg­is­la­tion at this point. “Those two par­ties can find the so­lu­tion,” she said. “I know there is a so­lu­tion; I know they can find it, and I am, in the strong­est pos­si­ble terms, ask­ing that they get back to the ta­ble.”

The col­leges and unions are about $250 mil­lion apart on wages and staffing de­mands, with the union seek­ing 50 per cent of jobs to be full-time given the growth in con­tract po­si­tions.

Depend­ing on how it is mea­sured, by head count full-time fac­ulty cur­rently rep­re­sent about one-third of all teach­ers, and by teach­ing hours they rep­re­sent about 50 per cent.


Stu­dents across the province are grow­ing in­creas­ingly wor­ried about the im­pact the col­lege strike will have on their se­mes­ter.


Ry­ley Martinell, a stu­dent at Flem­ing Col­lege in Peter­bor­ough, says the un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing the teach­ers strike has put his fu­ture in jeop­ardy.

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