Ontario's 12,000 striking college faculty members are preparing to vote Tuesday on the latest offer that could end a five-week-long strike.
Last week, talks between the College Employer Council, which represents the province's 24 colleges, and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents faculty, broke down.
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The council then asked Ontario's Labour Relations Board to schedule a vote on its offer, which is said to tackle most demands except for language surrounding academic freedom.
The offer includes a 7.75 per cent salary increase over four years, improved benefits and several measures to tackle concerns regarding part-time faculty.
Ontario's colleges launched a website on Monday, ahead of the vote that would allow striking faculty members to see what the offer entails.
The faculty vote is scheduled to begin Tuesday and end Thursday.
If the offer is accepted, about 500,000 students could be back in the classroom as early as next Tuesday.
However, if rejected, the strike would continue and both sides would return to the bargaining table.
Students on hold
Thousands of students at Fanshawe College have had their semester pushed back by two days to Dec. 22. Their fall semester studies have also been extended into January – delaying the start of the winter term.
Nahshon Daniel, a second year Fanshawe student, said the vote has given him a sliver of hope of finally going back to school, he said.
"It's about time. Now that they're going to put it in a vote, it gives you hope that it might actually end," he said.
"It gets your positivity going. Knowing there actually is an end in sight is a good feeling because we've been waiting around to see what will happen."
The Ontario government has ordered the colleges to create a fund to help students who may be experiencing financial hardship because of the strike.
Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews has said the government wants to see students return to the classroom as quickly as possible.
Files from the Canadian Press