Ontario offering tuition refund, as striking college faculty return to class

Credit National Public Radio

Credit National Public Radio

The Algonquin College campus on Woodroffe Avenue in Ottawa.

Ontario's college strike - the longest in the province's history - has had some unfortunate side effects now that it's over.

The legal action is helping draw attention to students' voices, said Joel Willett, president of the College Student Alliance, who added they are "being ignored" by the College Employer Council (CEC) and Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).

In a statement to The Brock Press following the vote tally last Thursday, the Communications team at OPSEU Local 242, which represents teachers at Niagara College, were adamant in their support of workers.

One of the main issues in the strike has been fair treatment for sessional and short-term contract faculty.

Talks weren't going well last week.

"(The province's offer) hardly puts a dent in our costs.

The Ontario Legislative Assembly building in Toronto.

"Over the past month, I have heard from students about hardships they have experienced as a result of this strike", advanced education minister Deb Matthews said. The governing Liberals wanted to get unanimous consent for the bill ahead of time, so it could pass without debate.

Queen's Park building seat of the Ontario Provincial Government. "The NDP will not support it, but it's expected to pass with the Liberal majority". On Friday morning, there were no picket lines at Ottawa's two community colleges, Algonquin, and La Cité. The fall semester will then continue on January 8 and finish on January 12.

Ariana Chasse, a fine arts student, is the President of the Student Administrative Council-the student union, at the Brockville campus of St. Lawrence College.

Chen said she's most anxious about the written assignments for her clinical placement because many students have not received feedback, guidance or motivation since the beginning of the strike.

"Nobody anticipated it would go on so long, nobody anticipated it would be a five-week strike", she said.

Many Twitter users who identified as college students pledged to never vote for the Ontario NDP following their blocking of back-to-work legislation, and some even announced their intention to drop out of their college studies due to the stress of the strike. Most nurses in the province also get their training at the facilities.

Students will return to class Tuesday to try to pick up where they left off in mid-October.

To help recoup the time lost, the college is extending its fall semester.

Classes may be back in session but many students are expressing concerns over the state of their programs and how the strike is affecting their studies. Meanwhile, some are taking aggressive measures. Anyone receiving OSAP who's likely to graduate before December 31, 2017, and who has their semester extended, will get additional OSAP. Some students have suggested gathering at college registrar's offices and having mass registration withdrawal demonstrations. It probably wasn't the sort of celebration any party in the dispute had in mind, but it reflects the financial and political pressures that public education is under these days.

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