Ontario government introduces legislation that would end York University strike
Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, May 7, 2018 2:24PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 7, 2018 5:12PM EDT
TORONTO -- Ontario's governing Liberals have introduced legislation that would end a two-month strike at Toronto's York University, but acknowledge there is little chance it will pass before the upcoming election.
If passed, the legislation would refer any outstanding issues between the university and some 3,000 graduate teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate research assistants to binding mediation-arbitration.
The two sides would have five days to agree on a mediator-arbitrator before one is appointed by the minister of labour, the province said.
The strike, which began March 5, has affected tens of thousands of students.
The government had launched a commission to look into the dispute and said Monday the decision to introduce legislation comes on the heels of a report by commissioner William Kaplan, which found the parties had reached an impasse.
Bills must go through three readings in the legislature before becoming law, with debates and often referral to a committee for further consideration, unless all parties agree to support the legislation and skip to what is called a unanimous consent vote.
The New Democrats said Monday they won't agree to such a vote, and said the Liberal move does nothing to help students or striking faculty.
"This is really a final insult to anyone who fights for students, and anyone who has ever organized for better working conditions," NDP legislator and labour critic Cindy Forster said in a statement.
Beckie Codd-Downey, spokeswoman for the Government House Leader's office, said the government reached out to the opposition parties before introducing the legislation.
"Given the time constraints, we will not be able pass this legislation without unanimous consent from the entire legislature, including the NDP," she said in an email.
"It is disappointing that the NDP is not willing to work with us to find a path forward through which this disruption can be ended and students can be returned to the classroom."
Tuesday is the last day the House will sit before the start of the provincial election campaign. The province heads to the polls June 7.
The Liberals have been under increasing pressure to intervene in the strike. Close to 40,000 students have seen at least one of their courses affected, according to the province.
York is offering a tuition credit for those who have felt the impact of the work stoppage.
Students who drop out of their fall-winter program can get a credit allowing them to retake the same course, or take a different one, before the end of 2019 without incurring any additional costs.