Ontario colleges reach out to striking faculty ahead of vote on offer

Ontario's colleges have launched a website that they say will allow striking faculty members to see for themselves what's in their employers' latest contract offer ahead of a vote this week.

If the offer is accepted, the College Employer Council says 500,000 students affected by the strike - which is now in its fifth week - could be back in the classroom as early as next Tuesday.

Talks between the council, which represents the province's 24 colleges, and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents the striking workers, broke down last week, with the council asking the Ontario Labour Relations Board to schedule a vote on its offer.

Sonia Del Missier, the chair of the colleges' bargaining team, says everything in the offer has been agreed on by both sides except for language surrounding academic freedom.

The union said last week its main point of contention has been the level of input college instructors have into the way courses are taught and evaluated, but also called the offer a step backwards. A spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

The faculty vote is scheduled to begin Tuesday and end Thursday.