Fanshawe College students rally against class cancelling faculty strike, November 10, 2017. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

MPPs Vote To Send College Faculty Back To Work

Striking college faculty can finally leave the picket lines and return back to classes now that the Liberal government’s back-to-work bill has passed at Queen’s Park.

About 12,000 college faculty are set to return to work on Monday, with over half-a-million students returning to their campuses starting Tuesday.

“All outstanding issues are to be referred to binding mediation-arbitration. The College Employer Council and OPSEU have five days to agree on a mediator-arbitrator, or one will be appointed by the Minister of Labour,” a statement from the province says.

Despite objections from the NDP, the government’s strong support from Progressive Conservative MPPs allowed the bill to pass and send striking college teachers and their students back to class.

“The Ontario PCs are relieved to know that college students will be heading back to the classroom early next week. Since day one, the Ontario PCs have been the ones standing up for students,” says Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown.

Brown places the blame on the Liberal government for the strike being so drawn out.

“At the very beginning of the dispute, we called for the Wynne Liberals to step in and bring both sides to the table. The Liberals waited until the very last minute, and only once it became a massive political problem, to get involved. The reality is this strike reached record lengths because of a lack of leadership shown by Kathleen Wynne and her government,” he says.

Ontario’s Minister of Labour is defending the government’s approach to the dispute.

“Our government respects and believes in the collective bargaining process. It is only in special circumstances that government intervention should occur,” said Labour Minister Kevin Flynn. “Through all of this, our focus has been on students and their learning. We want to see students back in the classroom as quickly as possible so that they can continue their education while an agreement is reached.”

The five-week long strike is considered the longest in the province’s history.