Class action lawsuit awaits court certification as refund deadline passes

by | Dec 8, 2017 | Faculty Strike, Headlines, Life

Justice McCormack
Life Reporter

Tuition refunds or a $500 rebate weren’t enough for some colleges students affected by the recent five-week faculty strike.

A province-wide class action law suit on behalf of students is continuing seeking certification from a court.

Having spent almost more time on strike than they did actually in class, a lot of students feel that they are being handed the short end of the stick.

For those that are seeking compensation for their lost time and any financial concerns that may have arose as a result of the strike, Humber, and the rest of the colleges across Ontario were offering two options.

The first college option allowed students to drop out of their program by Dec. 5 to receive a full tuition refund.

But for students who choose to stay in their programs, they had a chance to receive up to $500 in financial aid.

Students should be aware the $500 rebate to cover hardships and unexpected expenses worked like a scholarship and was not guaranteed to everyone.

Anisten Dunsmore, a landscape technician student at Humber North, is not on board with the colleges’ offer.

He said $500 rebate amounts to “nothing.”

“There are people who still had to pay for rent and food during this time, $500 is two weeks of groceries for these people,” Dunsmore said.

The class action is a third option.

Acting on behalf of a group of college students, the law firm Charney Lawyers launched the suit against the Ontario government. The firm has also launched unrelated class action suits involving junior hockey for wages and Ashley Madison, the dating website for cheating spouses that was hacked.

“We are seeking damages on behalf of all students affected by the college strike; both those who stay enrolled and those who drop out,” said Glenn Brandys, a representative of Charney Lawyers said.

It has to be certified by a judge in an official court in order for the case to proceed.

The law firm states there is a possibility students who accepted a hardship fee might not be eligible to join the suit if certified.

Jasminka Kalajdzic, an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Windsor, explained class action lawsuits often take time to be certified.

“Class actions take a while to resolve. It could take many months, maybe even a year for this to go through certification,” she said.

However, Kalajdzic said in cases like this, it is standard practice for the lawyers to negotiate a resolution in order to speed up the process.

Charney Lawyers gathered 14 student representatives and are trying to get one for each of the 24 colleges across Ontario to build its case.

They currently have one for Humber College, Korinne Horkey. As a security and investigation student at Lakeshore campus, Horkey is dedicated to protecting the rights of students who were affected by the strike.

Brandys said Horkey was one of the first students to approach the law firm for help in putting together the lawsuit.

If the class action lawsuit proceeds, this could guarantee all students to receive reimbursement from their college.