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Striking college faculty rally in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017, calling on the province to send college administrators back to the bargaining table.

Thomas Campean/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Ontario government has ordered the province's colleges to create a fund to help students who may be experiencing financial hardship because of a faculty strike that has cancelled classes for almost a month.

Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews says she has heard from students who are worried about how to pay for unexpected costs that could arise as a result of the labour disruption, such as having to pay additional rent or cancelling travel plans.

Ms. Matthews says Ontario's 24 colleges will establish the dedicated fund with all the savings from the strike, made up of unpaid wages to striking staff and other savings from not operating the schools.

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She says she will work with students and the colleges to establish the parameters of the fund.

Earlier this week, Ontario's Labour Relations Board set dates for a vote on the College Employer Council's final offer to striking faculty – balloting will take place online from Nov. 14 - 16.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents the 12,000 striking college professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians, has called on its members to reject the offer.

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