Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government will table back-to-work legislation to end the five-week college strike on Friday afternoon after the NDP blocked its first attempt. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press) Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government will try again on Friday afternoon to push legislation that will end the province’s college strike through Queen’s Park after the NDP blocked its first attempt on Thursday.
Ontario’s Legislature will meet at 3 p.m. ET and the Liberal government will ask for unanimous support to pass its back-to-work legislation, Kyle Richardson, press secretary for the province’s attorney general, said in a statement.
"Students have been out of the classroom for too long and we want to pass this legislation as quickly as possible," said Richardson.
If unanimous consent is denied, Richardson said Ontario’s Legislature will adjourn for the day and will meet again at 1 p.m. Saturday. That would mean proceeding through the normal stages of readings and debate before a final vote is taken, likely later in the weekend.
Wynne’s Liberals stepped in to force a swift end to the labour dispute, now in its fifth week, after negotiations reached an impasse Thursday when the latest contract offer from the College Employer Council (CEC) was rejected by some 12,000 striking faculty, represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).
Wynne met with representatives from both sides before her government announced it would introduce legislation to force them into binding arbitration and put an end to the longest college strike in Ontario’s history. The premier stated she wants to see roughly 500,000 students back in class by Monday morning. Ontario’s striking college faculty voted to reject a contract offer from the College Employer Council on Thursday and continue their nearly five-week job action. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press) The Liberals’ move to approve back-to-work legislation immediately required unanimous support, but was held up by the NDP late Thursday.
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath explained her party doesn’t support any legislation that revokes workers’ rights.
"It looks like Kathleen Wynne wanted to use anti-worker back-to-work legislation all along," Horwath said in a statement Thursday.
"She spent barely an hour at the table today after doing nothing for five long weeks." Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says she won’t support any legislation that erodes striking faculty members’ rights. (CBC) While the Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown agreed Wynne’s government should have stepped in sooner, he assured faculty and students that his party would back the bill.
"We will support back-to-work legislation to get students back in class on Monday," Brown said in a statement.
"It is the right thing to do for students."
Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews said she is disappointed the NDP aren’t making students the top priority. NDP plan to force debate
Should the Liberals’ back-to-work legislation be denied again, Richardson says the government "will seek unanimous consent to debate the bill" Friday and "sit throughout the weekend" until it is passed.
Horwath said her party "is prepared to sit through the weekend to debate this move."
NDP House leader Gilles Bisson echoed this saying the government has had five weeks to try to find a settlement and the party will force the Liberals to return to Queen’s Park to give the legislation "its due diligence and debate."
With files from CBC’s Mike Crawley
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