As the Ontario College faculty strike continues to crawl into its fourth week, the NDP is concerned about students’ mental health.
NDP Education critic Peggy Sattler says years of neglect by the Wynne Liberals have left post-secondary students and institutions struggling to cope with rising rates of student mental health crises and inadequate resources.
“Over the last five years, the number of college and university students with identified mental health issues has more than doubled at Ontario campuses,” said Sattler. “Recently, a panel of young people shared their experiences with the lack of services for campus mental health. They talked about escalating rates of student suicide and a chronic shortage of counsellors. They talked about being referred to community mental health services and waiting eight months or more for an appointment. Lives are at stake and urgent action is needed now,” she said.
In response to the growing problem, the College Student Alliance, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, Colleges Ontario and the Council of Ontario Universities released a joint report outlining 26 recommendations to address the crisis in campus mental health. The report authors call on the Liberals to implement a ‘whole community’ approach to the mental health needs of 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.
The union representing academic staff across the province are looking for more job protection, more full-time positions and they'd like more say in how the colleges are run. The colleges say the demands would cost too much, and their last offer to the union was reasonable. 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.
For more information:
Colleges propose strike resolution
Strike settlement talks resume
College students stay patient
Colleges on strike
Strike deadline looms
Potential strike at Confederation College