Canadian Federation of Students - Students Call Ontario Budget "Impoverished"



    McGuinty's budget ignores financial barriers to post-secondary education

    TORONTO, March 25 /CNW/ - Ontario's students and families who are
struggling to afford post-secondary education will find no relief in today's
Ontario budget, according to the Canadian Federation of Students. Despite
dubbing itself an "activist government on poverty," the McGuinty government's
first budget of its new term fails to invest in affordable post-secondary
education as a component of the province's poverty-reduction strategy.
    "Students feel that Premier McGuinty has failed to consider the financial
barriers that his government has put in the way of Ontario families struggling
to put their kids through college or university," said Jen Hassum, Chairperson
of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "Reducing tuition fees and
student debt is an important piece of the anti-poverty puzzle."
    The budget's primary provisions for post-secondary education focused on
investment in university deferred maintenance and incentives to invest in
research "innovation." The only measures targeting students and their families
include a $150 annual textbook voucher and modest funds for rural student
travel.
    "Over the past fifteen years, tuition fees and student debt have risen
more than four times faster than the rate of inflation," said Hassum. "When
thousands of Ontario students signed petitions calling for debt relief, a one
hundred and fifty dollar text book voucher wasn't what they had in mind."
    During McGuinty's first term of office, tuition fees rose from the fourth
to the third highest in Canada and community colleges were allowed to charge
illegal ancillary fees. As a result, today's students are graduating from a
four-year programme with more than $25,000 of debt.
    "With the Finance Minister projecting a surplus of $600 million this
year, students are left wondering why more isn't being done to improve
educational access and to lift families out of poverty," said Hassum.

    The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario unites over 300,000 college
and university students who are members of more than 35 students' unions
throughout the province.





For further information:

For further information: Jen Hassum, Chairperson, CFS-Ontario: (416)
925-3825 or (416) 832-9073 (cell); Joel Duff, Organiser, CFS-Ontario: (416)
925-3825 or (416) 707-0349 (cell)


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