From: YUFA in solidarity with CUPE 3903 [YUFA-CUPE@YorkU.CA] on behalf

of Lorna Erwin [lerwin@YorkU.CA]

Sent: November 28, 2000 1:24 PM


Subject: Questions asked by NDP MPP Francis Lankin about the York CUPE

3903 strike


The following is a Hansard transcript of a questions asked by NDP MPP

Francis Lankin about the York CUPE 3903 strike of

contract faculty, teaching and graduate assistants.




November 27, 2000




Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-East York): My question is to the Minister of

Colleges and

Universities. I want to ask you to take responsibility for keeping York

University students out of

classes for four weeks and teaching assistants on strike. You have taken

the unprecedented step, for

a government, of pressuring a university to strip away tuition

protection in order to promote your

agenda with respect to post-secondary education. You slashed $1.4

billion in operating funds, you

deregulated tuition, you forced tuitions to increase by 60%, and you

forced student debt to double.


At York, you want to sink teaching assistants below poverty wages by

stripping their tuition

protection. As it stands, TAs earn $850 a month. When you subtract the

tuition they pay, they are

left with $700 a month to live. You want them to earn even less. How can

you justify pressuring

York to take tuition protection away? That's the sticking point in these

negotiations. How can you

defend actions that have kept students out of classes and away from

their TAs for weeks now?


Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities):

I wish the

honourable member actually hadn't read that note, because it's not

factual. Our government is

spending more than ever on our universities and colleges. Our focus has

been to put the money into

supporting students and accessibility--I could go through the list.

We're getting ready for 88,000 new

students, and we've spent $1.8 billion along with our private sector

partners. I would like to chat with

the member later and clarify what she is talking about, because if this

is what she believes, then no

wonder people are upset.


With respect to York University, the member knows, because she was a

minister herself, that

universities are autonomous institutions, and I don't think she wants me

to get involved in this. I would

like to hear further from her with regard to what the real problem is.

They're autonomous and have to

deal with their labour relations, and that would be my expectation,

knowing my colleague in the



Ms Lankin: Minister, the problem is that everyone in the York community

believes--and it's been

reported in the newspapers--that your government has interfered. Of

course we don't want you to;

we want you to get out of the way of a settlement.


These workers are fighting for their survival. If your government has

intervened, you're forcing a

situation where they will be left to live on less than $700 a month, and

those are poverty wages.


You like to talk about the brain drain, Minister, but you refuse to face

the hemorrhage this situation is

causing. We need to retain and support the brightest and most

hard-working of our university

students, these TAs.


If you honestly deny that you're pressuring York University to strip

tuition protection from TAs, will

you make a public statement promising the government will not interfere

in Ontario's university

negotiations? Will you issue a public statement to the York University

community that the government

has no opinion about tuition protection or any other item in the

collective agreement of the teaching



Hon Mrs Cunningham: This is not a problem. We're not involved in this

dispute in any way. I don't

want to comment on anything that has anything to do with people working

together to get an

agreement. It is as simple as that.