Media Advisory - Ontario Students' Federation Chairperson to Comment on 2008 Budget



    Students Say Anti-Poverty Strategy Must Include a Tuition Fee Reduction

    TORONTO, March 20 /CNW/ - Representatives of the Canadian Federation of
Students - Ontario will be participating in the 2008 Ontario Budget lock-up
and will be available to provide comments throughout the day on Tuesday,
March 25.
    Ontario students are calling on the McGuinty government to make sure
low-income students and their families are not left out of the government's
proposed anti-poverty strategy. Reducing tuition fees and replacing student
loans with direct funding for colleges and universities is the best way to
reduce student debt.

    QUOTES

    "If the McGuinty government is serious about reducing poverty, it must
reduce tuition fees," said Jen Hassum, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation
of Students - Ontario. "The budget should contain a plan to protect students
and their families from any further tuition fee increases and a commitment to
stop offloading the financing of public colleges and universities through
individual student loans."

    STUDENTS' BUDGET RECOMMENDATIONS

    Students' five highest-priority, practical recommendations for the 2008
    budget are:

    
    1.  Tuition fees should be rolled-back and frozen at 2004-2005 levels
        for all domestic and international students. Ontario's $315 million
        share of the $800 million increase in the 2008 transfer payment for
        post-secondary education, as outlined in federal Budget 2007, should
        be used to fund a corresponding public re-investment in colleges and
        universities.

    2.  The Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities' "Binding Policy
        Directive" that prohibits colleges and universities from collecting
        tuition-related ancillary fees should be enforced immediately.
        Beginning with this budget, $50 million per year should be allocated
        to replace the revenue colleges are generating through the collection
        of illegal ancillary fees.

    3.  Immediately and on an annual basis thereafter, any money that is
        allocated for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities but
        not spent by year-end should be transferred to a Tuition Fee Increase
        Prevention Fund and used to help finance public re-investments that
        correspond with the reduction and freezing of tuition fees.

    4.  A plan to include the revenues of all public colleges and
        universities in the Ontario budget and financial statements beginning
        in 2009 should be developed to improve transparency and
        accountability.

    5.  A centralised, province-wide, credit evaluation and transfer
        facilitation system should be developed in order to ensure
        accountability in transferring credits between public post-secondary
        education institutions and realise significant cost-savings for
        students and the Government of Ontario.

    The full text of students' recommendations, as presented to the Ontario
Legislative Assembly's Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
during the 2008 pre-budget consultations, is available online:

          http://www.cfsontario.ca/mysql/GovRel-FinCmte_2008-01.pdf
    

    QUICK FACTS

    Ontario's average undergraduate tuition fees are now the third highest in
Canada, up from the fourth highest in 2005, and more than triple what was
charged in 1990-1991. According to Statistics Canada, tuition fees for
undergraduate arts and sciences programmes at Ontario universities were $5,381
in 2007-2008.
    If they had risen only by the rate of inflation since 1990-1991, average
undergraduate tuition fees in Ontario would be $2,490, less than half the
current cost. It would take 40 years, until the academic year 2048-2049, for
inflation to catch up to the average undergraduate tuition fees that are being
charged in Ontario this year.
    After promising to do things differently than its conservative
predecessor, the McGuinty government implemented its Reaching Higher plan for
higher tuition fees, permitting fees to increase between 5 and 8 per cent
annually since it cancelled a tuition fee freeze after only two years in the
fall of 2006.
    If the McGuinty government's current Reaching Higher plan for higher
tuition fees remains unchanged, student loan debt for a basic 4-year
undergraduate degree is poised to reach $28,000.
    Even when the funding is fully implemented, for every dollar allocated by
the McGuinty government to student aid, at least $1.30 will be clawed back
through tuition fee increases.
    Ontario's high tuition fees are a double tax on working families and
students who have been forced to finance an increasing amount of the cost of
operating the province's public colleges and universities with individual
loans while the province has generated surpluses.

    The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario unites over 300,000 college
and university students and 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); Ken Marciniec, Communications Coordinator,
CFS-Ontario: (416) 925-3825 or (416) 803-6066 (cell)


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