Students worry college strike could cost them jobs

Students at Algonquin College say extending the school year into the summer would cut into employment opportunities, leaving them financially strapped and forced to take on more debt.

Extending school year could cut into summer employment

Public relations student Neiko Burrell worries he will be forced to borrow more money if the school year extends into the summer. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

Students at Algonquin College are worried they will spend summer in the classroom instead of on the job, losing out on much-needed employment income.  

Faculty at the college have now been on the picket line for three weeks.

The President of Algonquin, Cheryl Jensen, sent out a letter on Thursday saying the current fall term could end up being extended into the winter, depending on how long the strike goes on.

That could potentially bump the next term into the summer of 2018.

"If we go into the summer I am not going to be able to keep my commitment to both of my jobs," said public relations student Neikko Burrell.

Burrell has two jobs lined up for the summer to help pay for tuition, one at a retail store and another working at a food truck for his mother.

Mbambu Kitambala worries making up for lost time because of the strike could force her to go to school on the weekends and force her to give up her job. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

If he can't work both jobs, he said he will have to borrow more money.

Burrell is already frustrated he's paying for an education he's not getting right now.

It's not clear how or whether students will be reimbursed for tuition, according to Algonquin College President Cheryl Jensen. She has said the colleges expect direction from the province with regard to refunds.

High-pressure situation

Nursing student Mbambu Kitambala is worried that when the strike ends she and other students will be asked to make up for time lost and have to do clinicial work on weekends, something she says would mean giving up her job in the dining hall at the University of Ottawa.

"It's not good. It's not good for me at all," she said. "I need to work. I need that money to survive."

Heba Alzrifi came to Canada two years ago, with her husband, who is also a student. She said they have three children to support. (Ashley Burkey/CBC)

For Heba Alzrifi, who arrived in Canada two years ago from Syria with her husband and three children, including a baby, the possible extension of the school into the summer presents childcare issues for her family.

If she was forced to go to school this summer, she said the family would have to consider cancelling a trip and she would need to find childcare for her kids.

The strike has become what she calls a "high-pressure situation," she said.

"It's so confusing for me. I've missed three weeks. I'm thinking how could I catch up?"

In the meantime she is trying to stay optimistic.

"I hope they will solve it as soon as possible and we can have our regular schedule back. I need these skills in my future work, to get a job," she said.