Ontario Passes Legislation to Get College Students Back to the Classroom

Head shot of Deb Matthews Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development
Photo: Deb Matthews - Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development

Strike to End and Classes to Resume

Ontario has passed legislation to end the college labour dispute and return Ontario college students to the classroom.

The Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Labour Dispute Resolution Act, 2017 governs the labour dispute between the College Employer Council and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) college academic unit.

All outstanding issues are to be referred to binding mediation-arbitration. The College Employer Council and OPSEU have five days to agree on a mediator-arbitrator, or one will be appointed by the Minister of Labour.

The government has also instructed colleges to establish a dedicated fund with net savings from the strike. The fund will be used to support students who have experienced financial hardships as a result of the strike, and its parameters will be developed in direct consultation with students.


  • The collective agreement between the College Employer Council and OPSEU expired on September 30, 2017.
  • The strike by approximately 12,225 faculty (composed of professors, instructors, counsellors and librarians) began on October 16, 2017 and affected all 24 colleges in Ontario.
  • The mediator-arbitrator will have the exclusive power to determine all matters necessary to conclude a new collective agreement, and also will have the ability to assist the parties in settling any related matter.



“Our government respects and believes in the collective bargaining process. It is only in special circumstances that government intervention should occur. Through all of this, our focus has been on students and their learning. We want to see students back in the classroom as quickly as possible so that they can continue their education while an agreement is reached.”
 — Kevin Flynn, Minister of Labour

“Students were in the middle of the strike for too long. We needed to put students first, and get them back to their studies. This legislation ensures students can get back to the classroom and refocus on their education.”
 — Deb Matthews, Deputy Premier, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development and Minister Responsible for Digital Government

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