An Open Letter to the Provincial Government during the Ontario College Strike

Alternatively titled, the Ontario college strike is ruining my life and the government needs to do more 

Public Service Announcement: This is not the post I was planning to write. It will have to wait because I am tired of standing by and not saying anything while my education is being used as a bargaining chip.

Dear Deb Matthews, Kathleen Wynne, and other members of government,

Stop standing idly by while 500,000 students are kept from their education. I’m not sure if you expect magical fairies to spread some pixie dust to get the two sides of the strike to sit down. I hate to break it to you, but the provincial government is our fairy godmother. You’ve repeatedly said that you are urging the two sides to get back to negotiations. Yet, you’ve failed to deliver anything but unfulfilled promises (not surprising given your government’s history).  You would think with an upcoming election on the horizon, you wouldn’t ignore 500,000 potential voters. You would think that you wouldn’t tweet “I love going back to school” with so many people denied their college education because of the Ontario college strike. Alas, I digress.

A summary of every time a member of government or member of college administration is asked about the strike:

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We’re now at the start of the third week of the Ontario college strike, with no negotiations planned.

I’m sorry, Premier Wynne and Deputy Premier Matthews, but your words of concern lack meaning now.

As a Public Relations student (if you can call me that since currently I can’t go to class), I can’t help but think about your PR teams failing to make you look like suitable government leaders. I’d offer my assistance, yet for some reason, something’s preventing me from obtaining that PR certificate. Guess that’s what happens when my future is being held in your incapable hands.

The sad thing is, I’m one of the lucky ones. I live at home rent-free. I don’t have children counting on me to get that college diploma to pay the bills (although I’d certainly like to pay my own bills). I’m not an international student caught in the cross-fire, who came to our “great” province for an education.

Everyone talks about the Ontario college strike as if there are two sides, but you fail to address the third side- students.

My education, and subsequently my future, is being held hostage. Students across Ontario are being left in the dark. They’re the only side I truly care about. Even if I stand behind the teachers, I still stand behind the fact that both sides should be in contract negotiations during a strike. If neither side will do this (which is apparent at this time that they won’t), you need to get them negotiating. You have the power to.

You talk about how you want to make colleges and universities free for Canadians, yet you let me be denied access to my education and you definitely don’t address giving us a refund for the money we’ve already lost during the strike paying for a service that we aren’t getting. I went back to college with hopes of learning valuable industry skills and experience so that I can graduate as employable. I chose a year program to learn from industry professionals so I can finally have a career. All of those things are being held in the palm of your hands and yet you do nothing. Way to make a girl feel unvalued. Kathleen Wynne famously said,”with an education, you can go anywhere and do anything.” Guess I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.

 

ontario college strike

As a taxpaying voter, I definitely know what kind of provincial government I wouldn’t want to re-elect.

It shames me that I feel the need to mention my role in your re-election to get you to do your job. Clearly, “warning” the sides that they need to come together to negotiate is not working. Something else needs to be done. Stop pretending to be concerned for us, and start to take action. Your words and warnings are simply not enough. How much longer can you stand by without helping us?  How many letters and articles do college students need to write for you to step up? Simply put, you have not done enough. No wonder why your approval rate is so low.

You have the authority to send them back to the table, yet you don’t. When is enough going to be enough?

Don’t be the villain in this story.

Turn that pumpkin into a carriage to bring the sides to the negotiating table. We refuse to be silent. I refuse to believe that my decision to go back to school to give myself a better future is for naught. I will not be quiet while I’m being prevented from gaining the experience and knowledge that will get me that coveted job. I’m tired of just standing by.

Forget the consequences that the union and the College Employer Council will face and remember the consequences the provincial government will face if they don’t intercede on behalf of college students, who are taxpayers and voters in their own right. Maybe that will light a fire under you. Act now. Let’s not let this strike carry on more than necessary. Give me back my education, please.

Sincerely,

The hostages in these negotiations lack of negotiations in the Ontario college strike.

Ps. If you also want to demand action, contact information for Deb Matthews can be found here. Contact information for Kathleen Wynne can be found here.  Here is a list of the current MPPs for the Legislative Assembly of Ontario if you want to contact your local MPP.

If you need something to do other than contact local government to demand action, you can read great blog posts about dating, grief, and regrets.

 

 

 

 

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