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Niagara Falls
Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Ontario students suing colleges for tuition refund

Students affected by the province-wide college faculty strike have had enough of not having class.

On Tuesday, Charney Lawyers of Toronto, representing 500,000 college students across Ontario, launched a class action lawsuit against 24 Ontario colleges.

The law firm put up a website for students to register as complainants, which seems to have crashed briefly early Wednesday morning but was up and running again by the afternoon. The site says the lawsuit is seeking full refunds for students who don’t want to continue with their programs and refunds equivalent to the time lost for students who do.

The lawsuit say the colleges breached a contract with students by not providing them with vocational training and a full term of classes.

A public release from Charney Lawyers says, “as of November 14, 2017, students have lost 5 weeks of classes in a curriculum which on average comes to a total of 14 weeks, with no end in sight. The colleges are in the business of providing vocational training to students in exchange for a prepaid fee. Students have paid the fees but the colleges have not provided the promised vocational training.”

Niagara College student Francia Salazar, who is taking a two-and-a-half year course in international business, says although strike has affected her, she doesn’t think it’s the right course of action to sue the colleges, who are trying to end the strike as soon as possible.

“Lawsuits are complicated and take time. I think government has to step in. I know the colleges do not want to lose the term so it’s all just a waiting game.”

Salazar, who moved from northern Ontario to finish her degree, says she is worried about the tuition she paid, and does think a partial refund would be appropriate if she loses the semester.

She says like many students she’s worried about trying to juggle time and traveling if the holidays are shortened by a recovery program, which the college has said it would arrange to accommodate the lost class time.

“I'm sitting at home and it is driving me crazy, I have dropped resumes everywhere looking for part-time work.”

“I support our teachers on their fight. I think the value of our education is delivered in the classroom and that value deserves fair compensation and job security … It is too bad it has to come to this since students and their families are suffering the most,” she continued.

“I wish they had more consideration of the sacrifices people have to make to get a higher education when it costs so much.”

She says even with college faculty voting on whether or not to accept the latest deal from the College Employer Council and end the strike, there is still an air of uncertainty among students and staff.

“Nobody knows what's going to happen after the vote. That uncertainty has students worried and everyone is wondering, ‘where's the government?’”

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