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Thomas: Ford is taking Ontario colleges back to the dark ages

Staff Writer |
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is taking the provincial government to court over its decision to scrap a task force that was addressing the issue of precarious work in Ontario Colleges.

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The College Task Force was a key part of the arbitrator's decision that marked the end of last year's faculty strike. OPSEU says the government's decision to dump the Joint Task Force is a denial of bargaining rights, and therefore a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

OPSEU President Warren Thomas said the Ford government seems to have only one way of doing business: putting an end to progress, dialogue and collaboration.

"Doug Ford might think he's above the law so maybe a rap on the knuckles by a judge will bring him back down to earth," said Thomas. "He needs to be reminded that he's accountable to Ontarians."

Premier Ford did away with the College Task Force on June 29, 2018 - his first day of office. OPSEU agreed in collective bargaining to refer several bargaining issues, including precarious work, to a task force where all sides could discuss and review the issues.

OPSEU's College Faculty bargaining chair, JP Hornick, is a co-applicant of the Charter challenge, and is concerned about what the loss of the task force means for the future of Ontario colleges.

"The government has put quality education in jeopardy, and thrown out a process that was producing results. College faculty are not going to just let this go. We are determined to fix the college system, whatever it takes , however we believe that the collaborative, evidence-based process the task force established is the best way forward."

Thomas is also concerned about the government's recent declaration that it will penalize Ontario colleges if they don't allow "freedom of speech" on campuses. A government news release refers to a minimum standard that the Ford government will set.

"This leaves a lot of unanswered questions and they're the kind of questions that could be dealt with by the College Task Force that the government has done away with."


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