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The 24 Colleges across Ontario that currently have staff striking will be required to establish a fund for students. Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Deb Matthews, says that the fund will be collected from the savings of the Colleges from the strike.

Matthews says that the fund will be used to support students who have experienced financial hardships as a result of the strike. The details of how the fund will be distributed have not been released, and may not be nailed down yet. Matthews says that she has met with student leadership from the College Student Alliance and has asked for their advice and feedback for the fund, and how to make sure the reinvestment directly benefits students.

The strike has cancelled classes across the province. In the district, Confederation College says they have about 200 students registered, along with 55 to 65 staff, but only three of those staff would be members of the striking union.

Roughly 500,000 full-time and part-time students have been affected by the strike across Ontario. Talks between the two sides resumed on November 2. Before that, negotiations stalled on October 15.

No college students have ever lost their year in Ontario due to a strike.

Matthew’s statement regarding the College strike and support for students:

Since the strike began, I have been clear that my focus is on students and their learning. I have had the opportunity to meet with a number of student leaders and their provincial associations. I have heard from them about hardships students are experiencing as a result of this strike. Students have been in the middle of this strike for too long and it's just not fair.

While every student's situation is unique, all students are struggling with continued uncertainty. They are worried about how to pay for unexpected costs like additional rent or canceling long-standing travel plans to be home with family. They've told me they are stressed about when they will be able to complete their studies or if there will be any extra help when classes finally resume.

That is why I am requiring that colleges establish a dedicated fund with all the savings from the strike. The fund will be used to support students who have experienced financial hardships as a result of the strike. I will work with students and colleges starting immediately to develop the parameters of the fund. We need to work out the details together and we will do it quickly. I have just spoken with student leadership from the College Student Alliance and have asked them for their advice and for feedback from their membership. I'm looking for the best ideas about how to make sure this reinvestment directly benefits students who have faced hardship.

This is a challenging time for everyone, but particularly for students. So, in the coming days, I look forward to working directly with student leaders and colleges on how we can lessen the impact of the strike on students. They deserve our support.

For more information:
Lives are at stake’, NDP
Colleges propose strike resolution
Strike settlement talks resume
College students stay patient
Colleges on strike
Strike deadline looms
Potential strike at Confederation College

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