Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced on November 16 that her government would be tabling legislation to end the college faculty strike, which has now reached its fifth week. The proposed legislation would see all outstanding issues referred to a binding mediation-arbitration, and would have classes resume on Monday, November 20.
However, the Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP) has blocked the attempt to table the bill after the normally scheduled legislation period on Thursday evening, making it unlikely classes would resume on Monday.. The Liberals will ask the Speaker to reconvene the legislature on Friday to reintroduce the bill.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath had said in a statement she would not support the back-to-work legislation. “I want students back in classrooms Monday, and I want that achieved through a deal,” she said.
“Students have been in the middle of this strike for too long and it is not fair,” Wynne said in her initial statement.
Wynne met with representatives from the College Employer Council and Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) after striking college faculty voted overwhelmingly to reject the council’s contract offer, prolonging the strike.
Earlier in the day, OPSEU President Warren Thomas had warned that the entire labour movement would “come down on the government” if it introduced this back-to-work legislation. “We will be on the lawn at Queen’s Park,” he said.
Wynne had urged both the Progressive Conservatives (PC) and NDP to support the legislation; PC Leader Patrick Brown has come out in support of the legislation.