Student groups studying likelihood of a strike

by | Feb 4, 2019 | Biz/Tech, Headlines

Druv Sareen, Biz-Tech Reporter

For the third week in a row, protests have erupted at Queen’s Park in response to the OSAP changes put forward by the Doug Ford government.

Protests at Queen’s Park have become a regular feature ever since the provincial government announced its changes to the sex education curriculum for high school students.

Karel Peters, a student from the University of Toronto, attended the protest on Jan. 25. She, like many students, thinks the changes are unfair to students.

”When I graduate university I no longer have six months interest free to pay back my OSAP,” Peters said. “I’m going to have to pay back right away without a job, without any type of security which is unrealistic for students.”

Students maybe galvanized and motivated by the OSAP changes but these protests apparently are having little effect.

While the protests have attracted students from all over the province, their attendance has been middling. These protests have depended hugely on organization from the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and other pubic unions.

Rena Borovilos, Chief Steward for Humber’s Faculty Union, urges student organizations to unify.

“These are really very desperate times,” she said. “All student groups, the leadership of these student groups should be making alliances with like-minded groups.”

Borovilos wants to see more students attend the rallies and marches, because the publicity helps spread the messages.

“It’s very important,” she said.

“Until you get to those rallies, you don’t know that there’s a lot of other people there who are informed and who are willing to have their voice being heard,” she said.

Many organizations, such as the Canadian Federation for Students (CFS), have voiced support for a student strike. In its general meeting, CFS passed a motion to hire mobilization coordinators in case of a student strike.

Currently, IGNITE is not a part of the CFS, but the college has two local OPSEU unions, one for support staff and one for faculty.

Nour Alideeb, Chairperson for CFS Ontario, said the motion examines the feasibility of a strike.

Nour Alideeb addresses the crowd at a protest at Queen’s Park on Jan. 19. (Druv Sareen)

“There was a motion brought forward to explore student strikes, to really understand what happened in Quebec,” Alideeb said. ”People want to develop a plan to better understand how it works before jumping right into something like that because it is a looming large endeavor.”

She is referring to the 2012 Quebec student protests. The Maple Spring were protests by Quebec students against rising tuitions which went from March 2011 to September 2012.

In comparison to the Quebec protests, which attracted hundreds of thousands of students, Ontario’s strikes are minuscule. Of the two protests that have already occurred, none of the protests have come close to the numbers in Quebec.

If the plan in Ontario is for a student strike, organizers are so far lacking the numbers the Quebec strikes had.