OPSEU asks Premier about college investment in Saudi Arabia

News that Ottawa's Algonquin College is offering diplomas in a Saudi Arabian college raises concerns for the President of OPSEU.

Toronto (16 March 2015) — The President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) has written the Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne, asking questions about why Algonquin College is offering diplomas at the newly established Jazan College of Excellence in Saudi Arabia.

In his open letter, Smokey (Warren) Thomas asks, "Why are Ontario tax dollars being funneled into this overseas campus rather than being invested in our province’s college education system?"

Human rights violations in Saudi Arabia

"Saudi Arabia is a country with a terrible human rights record," wrote Thomas.

"Most recently, Amnesty International has taken up the case of Raif Badawi, the blogger subjected to a brutal flogging sentence for his activism. Is this really a regime we want to support? Do you consider Saudi Arabia a good place to invest Ontario citizens’ tax dollars?"

Need for an ethical investment framework for province's colleges

Thomas elaborates that "chronic underfunding is seriously undermining the Ontario college system. This squeezing of the colleges is forcing them to find alternative income sources, and is in large part to blame for them turning to these very dubious overseas partnerships. When will this government recognize that the colleges are a driving force of the Ontario economy, which delivers jobs, innovation and quality education for the next generation of workers?"

He argues that "it is time for this government to establish an ethical framework for the college investment decisions, and to enforce it."


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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