Nearly 50,000 people have signed a petition calling for tuition to be refunded to students impacted by a teachers’ strike at Ontario colleges.

On Monday morning, thousands of faculty members at 24 Ontario colleges, including professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians, walked off the job after contract talks broke off Sunday night between the Ontario Public Services Employees Union and the College Employer Council, which is responsible for bargaining on behalf of colleges.

On Sunday, a petition was launched asking that full-time and part-time students be refunded tuition for the time they miss in the classroom.

“Concerned Ontarians are coming out very strongly in supporting this petition,” Greg Kung, a co-author of the petition, told CP24 Monday.

“This process as you know has gone on since May and they haven’t been any closer to any deal anytime soon so students are frustrated, they are demanding that they get their money back.”

Kung said after crunching the numbers, he estimates the average student pays approximately $40 per day for college tuition. The petition, he said, asks that full-time students be refunded $30 per day for every day the strike continues and part-time students be refunded $20 per day.

Kung noted that although anyone can sign the online petition, many of those signatures belong to students.

“A large portion of it is students that are concerned,” he said. “A lot of them are international students and domestic students alike that have paid a lot of money to go to these colleges and you know we are in a time when students are finding it very difficult to find their first job.”

JP Hornick, chair of the union bargaining team, said she supports the petition.

“I applaud the students for what they are doing in terms of the petitions, the actions they are taking, and the shows of support they have already made to us on these issues,” Hornick said.

“My message to them is we understand. This is all about them actually. We are standing up for quality and fairness in the system to ensure that they have the best education we can give them,” she said.

She encouraged students to come speak to faculty members on the picket line.

“We will tell you exactly why we are here,” she said.