Alliance of students calls on colleges and union to reach deal

Students affected by the strike haven’t had a “voice at the table,” says New Democrat education critic

With both the colleges and union bargaining teams pledging to get back to the table there’s a sense of relief for those affected by the strike. But even if the strike ends tomorrow, there could still be negative consequences for students. 

The Students First Rally, which was organized by the College Student Alliance (CSA) at Queen’s park today, highlighted the challenges students are facing as a result of the strike and called on the colleges and faculty union to reach an agreement as soon as possible. 

“Students do not want to be used as pawns. Students refuse to sit on the sidelines, while our futures are being used as bargaining chips,” said Joel Willett, president of the CSA.

While the colleges and union bargaining teams continue their stand off, hundreds of thousands of students have been left in uncertainty, worried about their semester.

“We know that students are going be financially penalized whether or not the semester is lost,” said MPP Peggy Sattler, the Ontario New Democrats critic for advanced education and skills development. “They’ve been financially disadvantaged by a strike over which they had absolutely no control and no voice at the table.”

At the rally, Sattler also expressed concern for international students who might require an extension on their study permits, as well as students with special needs, who she said might have challenges coping with a condensed program.

Neil Ball, a student in the paramedic program at Centennial College, said that the strike has stopped him from serving the community as a paramedic apprentice. Photo: Natalia Pizarro Silva / The Dialog

 Neil Ball, a student in the paramedic program at Centennial College, said that the strike has affected his apprenticeship.

“Right now I would be riding on an ambulance if this strike weren’t in place. I would be learning and helping the community on an ambulance,” he said.

Today, the Ministry of Labour announced that the colleges and faculty union would be back at the table on Thursday.

Abdullah Mushtaq, the CSA’s director of advocacy, said that the new date for the negotiations is great news, but if the two sides don’t reach an agreement the student alliance will call arbitration.

“We want them to get down to business.”

The unionized faculty at Ontario’s 24 colleges have been on strike since Oct. 16.

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Alliance of students calls on colleges and union to reach deal