A class action lawsuit has been launched on behalf of students enrolled at the 24 colleges across Ontario, which cancelled programs and services last month when faculty went on strike.
In a news release Tuesday, Toronto law firm Charney Lawyers said the suit began with 14 students who have come forward so far are enrolled in various vocational programs offered by the colleges. An estimated 500,000 students attend college in the province, and the firm has a website where they can join the suit.
“The students seek to recover a refund of tuition and fees paid to the colleges for vocational training and other services,” the news release said.
“One of the plaintiffs, Caitlin Foulon, who is a student at Fanshawe College in London, explained that she decided to launch a class action lawsuit because 'our educations and training are crucial to our futures, and every student deserves to receive the full program that they have paid for.'”
“The colleges are in the business of providing vocational training in exchange for a prepaid fee," Ted Charney of Charney Lawyers PC, is quoted as saying in the release.
“The students paid the fees. If the colleges cannot, for whatever reason, provide the promised vocational training, then the fees should be refunded.”
Charney Lawyers is a leading class action law firm located in Toronto, the release said. As of Nov. 14, students have lost five weeks of courses in a curriculum which, on average, comes to a total of 14 weeks.
“The colleges are in the business of providing vocational training to students in exchange for a prepaid fee,” the release said. “Students have paid the fees but the colleges have not provided the promised vocational training.
“As matters stand, students may lose an entire semester without being refunded their tuition and fees, or students may be required to repeat courses or take extended programs into the new year. In order to address these issues as well as other expenses incurred by students that should be refunded.”
The lawsuit seeks damages for breach of contract and breach of the Ontario Consumer Protection Act. To date, the colleges have not refunded fees paid to attend the colleges, the release said. “As a result, the colleges have breached the contracts with the students.”
Many students are also entitled to a refund for their meal plan program and expenses for campus residences they have paid for while there are no courses at the campus, the release added.
“If you are a student enrolled at an Ontario college whose courses or programs have been cancelled, you may be entitled to compensation, including a refund of tuition and fees.”
There is no financial obligation to register, the firm said, and there are no fees unless the firm wins a financial award.
While no talks are planned to end the strike, the roughly 12,000 faculty are voting today until Thursday on the province's last contract offer. If rejected, the province has indicated it will step in with legislation to prevent students from losing their semester.