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