Horwath, Sattler say Wynne’s $500 cap on help for students is too low

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QUEEN’S PARK – Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and NDP Education critic MPP Peggy Sattler say the $500 cap Kathleen Wynne has put on the fund to help students recover from the five-week long college faculty strike is too low.

The NDP wants students properly compensated for the personal financial costs of the strike caused by the Liberal government, and also wants colleges to be directed to offer further mental health and academic supports for students dealing with increased anxiety and depression.

“Students were forced to put their lives on hold for five weeks because the premier and her Liberal government sat on their hands and watched the faculty strike escalate,” said Horwath. “Students have paid the price for the premier’s inaction – they paid academically, emotionally and financially. $500 will simply not be enough for many students to recover from the chaos the Liberal government has created.”

While students are relieved to be back in class, for many, the accelerated semester caused by the long strike is not going to work. Half of Ontario’s college students are mature students – and for students with family or job obligations, learning disabilities or for countless other reasons, cramming the work of the missed five weeks into just two additional weeks may not be possible.

“Many students don’t want a compressed semester, they want a fresh start in the new year. They are demanding a full tuition refund so they can get the complete semester they paid for,” said Education critic Peggy Sattler. “The Wynne Liberals announcement this morning suggests that only students who drop out will get a refund. It’s done nothing but create more chaos and confusion for these people who have already been through so much.”

Due to Kathleen Wynne’s underfunding, Ontario’s colleges have the lowest per-student funding in the entire country. The majority of instructors are part-time, contract workers who are underpaid compared those few teachers and professors who have a permanent job. Faculty members often work two or three jobs to make ends meet, and students lose out on the help, support and mentorship their education should come with.

“The chronic underfunding of the college system laid the groundwork for this strike. Wynne’s back-to-work legislation ignores the underlying issues in our broken colleges system,” said Horwath.