College support staff ratify new contract

The main entrance of St. Clair College, main Windsor campus. Photo by Mark Brown/WindsorNewsToday.ca.

Full-time support staff at Ontario’s 24 publicly-funded colleges are now under a contract for the next three years.

Staff represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) have ratified a new collective bargaining agreement with the College Employer Council (CEC). The ratification came a week after an arbitrator worked out the terms of a new deal.

“It is through our positive ongoing working relationship with full-time support staff that we were able to come to a deal before the previous collective agreement expired,” said CEC Management Bargaining Chair Pascal Bessette. “Support staff is an integral part of the College sector, and we look forward to continuing to work together providing students with a well-rounded educational experience.”

Just below 80 per cent of those who voted on the agreement ratified it this week.

Despite the concern over constraints made by Bill 124, which limits public employees in Ontario to a one per cent raise each year, OPSEU President J.P. Hornick said he was pleasantly surprised by what the arbitrator had put together, especially on health benefits.

“I’m so proud of the bargaining team for the concrete improvements they’ve negotiated for full-time college support members,” said Hornick. “OPSEU will continue to fight tirelessly against Bill 124, to end the Ford government’s unfair cap on wage increases, and to build our bargaining power together as a union.”

Among the terms of the agreement are a one per cent increase in wages, gains in health benefits and paramedical services, an increase in cannabis-related benefits, and an advanced commitment to inclusion and diversity.

The previous contract expired on August 31, but support staff continued to work while negotiations continued.

The current one runs out on August 31, 2025. A complete rundown of the arbitrator’s ruling can be found on the CEC official website.