The Liberal Party of Ontario is set to table legislation that could end the provincial college strike and get students back into the classroom by next week.
The motion will be proposed at 3 pm within the Legislative Building at Queen’s Park, and if passed, prevent any further striking or lock-outs until a new collective agreement is signed between the College Employer Council and the Ontario Public Sector Employees Union.
In a statement, Queen’s Park said “the proposed legislation governs the labour dispute” between the two parties, with all outstanding issues “referred to binding mediation-arbitration.”
Both sides would have five days to agree on a mediator-arbitrator, or have one appointed by the Minister of Labour, according to Queen’s Park.
“The public interest requires the government to take action to end the strike,” education minister Deb Matthews said.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said after parliament that it is her job to review legislation and not pass it without review, explaining she expects it to be passed by Sunday.
Horwath said the New Democrats will not get behind “anti-worker legislation” that “stamps on workers rights” but understands the Liberal majority will result in the motion eventually passing.
The New Democrat leader explained she is “very, very happy” that colleges will likely be back up and running next week as soon as Monday or Tuesday.
Some 500,000 full and part-time students were blocked from the classroom when the college faculty strike kicked off on Oct 16 due to employer and union negotiators not reaching the deadline for an agreement.
The College Student Alliance, who has in the past encouraged faculty to vote in favor of the forced vote and now for parties to enforce back-to-work legislation called Friday’s session “incredibly unfortunate for students.”
The New Democrats had told the CSA they would be willing to debate the bill during emergency parliament session, but no discussion occurred today.
“CSA is hopeful all debates will be finished by this weekend [and] students back in class early next week,” reads the Twitter statement.
More details to follow. Image 1 of the Ontario Legislative Building from Wikimedia Commons.