College strike dominates town hall meeting hosted by Wynne
Kayla Goodfield, CP24.com
Published Monday, November 20, 2017 3:57PM EST
Last Updated Monday, November 20, 2017 10:21PM EST
It was a packed house full of questions regarding the Ontario college strike at a town hall meeting hosted by Premier Kathleen Wynne in Yorkville on Monday night.
Toronto residents arrived at The Concert Hall located at 888 Yonge Street, just north of Davenport Road, for the meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m.
The conversation was supposed to focus on a number of issues such as education, health care, job security, and housing in the province of Ontario.
However, the discussion quickly turned to focus on the recently ended Ontario-wide college strike, which has affected about 500,000 students and 12,000 faculty members since it began on Oct. 15.
Back-to-work legislation was passed over the weekend allowing teachers to return to work on Monday to prepare for students’ return as classes resume on Tuesday.
Speaking at the town hall meeting, Wynne said the passed legislation “leaves a lot of questions” for those affected.
“The college bargaining process as it played out leaves a lot of questions and I’ve said the minister and I are asking how we can make that process better,” she said. “As it stood – I believe in the collective bargaining process – I think that organized labour and collective bargaining in this province and in this country and in North America have done a lot over decades to create a fair society.”
“But we need to make sure that young people don’t get caught in a situation like this again.”
Wynne said her government did “everything they could” to resolve the situation.
“We worked and pushed and behind-the-scenes we were constantly working to get the parties back to the table,” she said. “At the first moment when we could recognize that the vote failed we brought the parties together and we could see that there was no hope of an agreement then we moved to put legislation in place.”
One affected student, Edith, told CP24 outside of the town hall meeting that she feels “disgusted” by Wynne’s answers to various questions regarding the strike.
“I feel as though she’s definitely skated around the questions that have been asked,” she said. “I feel as though she has sort of coped out on it and given very vague answers about it and I would like the answers regarding my future to be quite specific.”
“It’s 500,000 students’ futures and I’m not the only one who is upset about this. I’m scared because this isn’t just a few colleges this is an Ontario problem and the fact that she is unable to give me a straight answer and give 500,000 other students and 12,000 faculty members a straight answer disgusts me.”
Edith, who is originally from Calgary and is currently studying at Humber College, became emotional when speaking about not being able to go back home to celebrate Christmas with her family.
“I’m no longer able to go home for Christmas and Christmas is my favourite time of the year,” she said. “I miss my little sister. My friends are all going back home because they had a chance to book their flights but I simply wasn’t in that deadline.”
Colleges across the province have extended the fall semester to make up for the five weeks that we lost during the strike.
Other topics that were addressed throughout the meeting were her government’s marijuana policy, anti-black racism and affordable child care.
Approval ratings for Wynne have been consistently below 20 per cent for majority of the year.
A spokesperson for the Liberal party said Wynne plans to have more town hall meetings across the province to address issues affecting Ontarians.