Demetre James Politis
Full tuition refunds and upwards of $500 in reimbursements are the available compensation options for students who lost time in classrooms.
Any student who withdraws by Dec. 5 from their studies because of the impact from the five-week strike will be given a refund for their tuition.
The only caveat is that many programs admit students once per calendar year, and there are no guarantees students will be readmitted in the following year.
Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews responded to students’ concerns on Monday, saying students who decide to withdraw from their semester because of the strike could receive the full-tuition refund.
Matthews also said the money saved by the colleges as a result of not paying faculty during the strike will be put towards a $500 reimbursement.
It’s eligible for full-time students, suffering from unexpected costs such as rent, travel tickets, and child-care expenses.
However, law firm Charney Lawyers, which is preparing a class action lawsuit against the 24 colleges on behalf of students warns if students accept payment from the government, they could exclude themselves from any future proceedings.
“If the Ontario government requires you to sign a release of all claims, then you can no longer participate in the class action or make any additional claims for compensation besides the ones the government is already offering to pay,” the law firm’s website states.
Matthews said OSAP will be extended into December in response to revised academic calendars.
The provincial government has confirmed international students will be able to extend their visas, and the labour disruption will not affect their ability to stay in Canada.
However, it has not been made clear if international students are expected to pay the required fee to apply for a visa extension.
Ashuni Patel, 22, a third-year Bachelor of Industrial Design student and student ambassador at Humber’s International Student Centre, said she believes she’ll have to pay the fee to extend her visa.
“When my visa expires, it means I’m here illegally and it’s another $150 to have it extended,” she said. “That adds to the other costs I’ve incurred because of this strike.”
“For [international] students, December is the most ideal time to go home for us,” Patel said.
“Most travel tickets are expensive and non-refundable, so many of us did not know what to do during the strike.”
She said she couldn’t afford to look into the possibility of getting her money refunded because her program is only offered once a year, and she only had one year left on her visa to stay in Canada.
She would have to travel back home which is another $2,000 ticket, only to have to reapply to college in the next year without a guaranteed spot in her program.
“It would be nine months wasted of doing nothing,” Patel said.