Students suing Ontario colleges over disrupted school year

A flag representing the Ontario Public Service Employees Union flies at Lambton College’s London Road entrance. Troy Shantz

Troy Shantz

A Lambton College student helping organize a class-action lawsuit against Ontario’s colleges says students deserve compensation for a five-week strike that damaged their fall semester.

“Our contract was broken with all the colleges, so the education we’re supposed to be getting hasn’t been delivered,” said Jade Flay, a first-year paramedic student.

Flay, 20, is part of a student collective from 24 Ontario colleges that launched the suit last week, seeking compensation for lost class time and a full refund for students forced to drop out.

Lambton College student Jade Flay is helping organize a class-action lawsuit against Ontario’s colleges.
Troy Shantz

“That is our money that’s going in, and that’s our time being wasted,” Flay said.

“People are paying rent that they don’t even need to pay for because they’re not in school.”

Ontario’s college faculty, including 205 full and partial load instructors at Lambton, have been on strike since Oct. 16.

Faculty represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union voted last week to reject an offer from the College Employer Council.

At press time, the Ontario government was preparing back-to-work legislation that would have seen students return to classes this week.

Lambton president and CEO Judith Morris said last week the college had a contingency plan that included using a fund of money saved during the strike to help students who suffered financially.

“We will do everything possible to make sure students have the opportunity to be successful,” she said.

The college would not say how much money was banked since faculty took to the picket line.

Flay said extending the semester with a shortened Christmas break will be problematic for students who aren’t local.

“I sat down and cried with one of my classmates who said, ‘I can’t go home for Christmas,’” she said. “She lives 26 hours away.”

Flay said many of her classmates have struggled to keep up with course materials and lost their motivations with no instructors to lead them.

“You don’t know what to study, and a lot of students feel this way,” she said last week. “We’re just lost.”

Students who want to learn more about the class-action lawsuit or register to participate can visit http://collegefeesclassaction.com.

Lambton College was also providing updates available at

http://lambtoncollege.ca/Strike_Info