'They've gutted the system': Strike put spotlight on Ontario's college funding

Faculty members delay cars passing through a through a picket line at a Humber College campus in Toronto on Wednesday

Both Ontario's New Democrats and the governing Liberals conceded that the situation wasn't ideal as the legislature debated a bill on Saturday that would end a five week strike by faculty at the province's colleges.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who has come under fire for rejecting moves to pass the legislation immediately, said her party remains opposed to it because it is "anti-worker", but the stance won't affect when students return to class.

The NDP blocked a government attempt to present the bill by refusing unanimous consent to allow the Liberals to do so Thursday evening after the normally scheduled time period for introducing legislation.

The College Employer Council brought its final offer to a vote after they approached the Labour Relations Board of Ontario, who brought forth the offer to the striking OPSEU faculty.

The 12,000 professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians went on strike October 15.

Wynne met both the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), which represents the teachers, and the College Employer Council (CEC) on Thursday after union members overwhelmingly voted against contract offers.

"I want students back in classrooms Monday, and I want that achieved through a deal", Horwath said.

"It is the right thing to do for students", Brown said.

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"We have said repeatedly that students have been in the middle of this strike for too long and it is not fair", she said in a statement.

"This is a awful result for students who have been caught in this strike for more than four weeks", Georgian College president and CEO MaryLynn West-Moynes said in a letter to students Thursday morning.

"Given the length of the strike, we've advised students that the holiday break will run from the end of the day December 22, 2017 up to and including Wednesday. They have to focus on students".

Around 20 students held a peaceful protest in the main foyer at Brockville's St. Lawrence College Thursday where, equipped with placards, they urged faculty and the province to negotiate a settlement so they can return to class.

"This is up to the NDP, we could have passed this last night", Deb Matthews, Ontario's Minister of Advanced Education, said on Friday after the government's request for a fast track failed. "But the parties have been so far apart on the issues we'll see where this leads".

According to CBC, schools affected by the strike "have started to roll out revised schedules and policies to accommodate students facing financial costs due to the strike". Here, they demanded their tuition money back if the fall semester was lost as a result of the strike.

Meanwhile, students have filed a class action lawsuit alleging the colleges breached contracts with students by failing to provide vocational training and a full term of classes.

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