Ontario colleges remain on strike, after contract offer rejected

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Ontario's Liberal government is moving to introduce back-to-work legislation that would end a almost five-week strike by college faculty, though opposition from the NDP means it may not happen quickly.

"Had we passed this legislation on Thursday or even on Friday, students would have and could have been in the classroom by Monday, but the NDP chose to block that from happening".

With student leaders watching from above, the Liberals and New Democrats traded barbs during the 21 minutes Ontario's legislature sat on Friday.

Faculty members from colleges across the Ontario have voted to reject the latest contract offer, as recommended by their leadership at the Ontario Public Services Employees Union.

Natyshak criticizes the Kathleen Wynne government for taking so long to intervene in the strike by 12,000 faculty at Ontario's 24 colleges.

The union called on the colleges to return to the bargaining table Thursday afternoon.

"I want students back in classrooms Monday, and I want that achieved through a deal", Horwath said. We've also asked students to be prepared to return on January 2, although right now, we're not certain that will be required.

"We're in the midst of drafting plans for semester completion that we'll review with faculty and communicate with student as soon as the strike is either suspended or over", she said.

"This impasse is completely frustrating for us and for you, but I know that our frustration is nothing compared with the frustration that 500,000 students out of class are feeling right now", Del Missier added.

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Numerous students at the rally Thursday are from Brockville, and many of their fellow students who are from out of town have gone back home while the strike happens, while many others have dropped out.

Local vote results were not immediately available but OPESU Local 613 president Frank Turco said he expects they will reflect the provincial results.

"For five weeks, students were left wondering how they could afford to pay for their education".

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.

As the strike nears the end of its fifth week at the province's 24 colleges, it was clear Wynne was losing patience.

Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews said with unanimous consent the legislation could have been introduced and sped through first, second and third readings Thursday night. "They're understandably anxious about how they will make up the lost time as colleges release back-to-school plans that include extending the semester right up to Christmas".

Matthews also said that the semester can still be salvaged.

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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