New school year offers Ontario a chance to correct its mistakes, build upon its successes in post-secondary education

TORONTO, Sept. 8, 2015 /CNW/ - With a new school year beginning, college and university students are urging the provincial government to take action on high tuition fees and student debt, while building upon the province's Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan to ensure Ontario's colleges and universities are affordable, accessible and safe places to study, live and work.

"Chronic underfunding of post-secondary education has made Ontario the most expensive province in which to study, graduating students with ballooning debt loads into an unstable and difficult job market," said Rajean Hoilett, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "The government must commit to making post-secondary education accessible and affordable for all to ensure economic security not only for students, but for the province as a whole."

The start of a new school year also serves as an opportunity to combat rape culture and build a more inclusive province. Orientation weeks serve as prime opportunities to highlight the importance of consent and promote acceptance of Ontario's diversity. Students have played a key role in the development of the province's Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan and hope to see further movement by government and sector partners to create consent culture on campuses and in communities across the province.

"Students have always been at the forefront of combatting sexual violence and harassment and building safer campuses," said Gabrielle Ross-Marquette, National Executive Representative for the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "From modernized sex education to provincially-mandated Sexual Assault Policies at colleges and universities, students are proud to see Ontario proactively building consent culture, but we can and must do more."

This year, students will be campaigning around four priority areas: reducing tuition fees, protecting students' union autonomy, building upon the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan and re-integrating international students into public health insurance.

"Students arrive on campus with a passion to learn and optimism about their future," said Hoilett. "At a time of economic instability and uncertainty, the province must do everything it can to ensure that passion and optimism remains on graduation day."

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario is the province's oldest and largest student organization. Representing over 350,000 college and university students in all regions of the province.

SOURCE Canadian Federation of Students

For further information: Rajean Hoilett, Chairperson, 416-925-3825 (office) or 289-923-3534 (cell) or chair@cfsontario.ca; Gabrielle Ross-Marquette, National Executive Representative, 647-918-9864 (cell) or national@cfsontario.ca


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