TORONTO, Feb. 1, 2016 /CNW/ - Ontario's college and university students have released a series of recommendations for the 2016 provincial budget, which will be presented to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs this morning. The recommendations seek to improve access to and affordability of post-secondary education in the province, including measures to curb rising tuition fees and student debt, support low-income students, provide greater opportunities for experiential education and make our campuses healthier and safer places to live, work and study.
"Ontario has had the highest tuition fees in the country for seven years in a row despite providing one of the lowest qualities of education in Canada," said Rajean Hoilett, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "Our recommendations seek to stop the erosion of access to post-secondary education, while building colleges and universities all Ontarians can afford and be proud of."
The recommendations outlined in the document, Brighter Horizons: Bringing meaningful change to Ontario's post-secondary education sector, include:
- Replacing the provincial portion of student loans with needs-based, non-repayable grants;
- Reducing tuition fees for all students by 50 per cent;
- Re-establishing reduced tuition fee rates for graduate students who are in the research and thesis-writing portion of their degrees;
- Targeted grants to support the recruitment, retention and graduation of low-income students;
- A Supported Experiential Education Program to provide paid experiential education opportunities for students;
- A fund to promote and protect the teaching of and instruction in Aboriginal languages at colleges and universities;
- The establishment of an "Accountability Division" within the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to oversee institutional compliance with and progress of the province's Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan;
- Extending public healthcare to international students, consistent with the majority of Canadian provinces; and
- Dedicated, stable funding for overwhelmed campus mental health services.
"We know that high tuition fees, ballooning student debt and a difficult labour market are pushing a generation to the brink of bankruptcy," said Gabrielle Ross-Marquette, National Executive Representative for the Federation. "These proposals are thoughtful, reasonable and practical solutions to the challenges we face as students, as a sector and as a province, and we sincerely hope decision-makers take our concerns and suggestions seriously."
Student representatives from across the province will also present these priorities to Members of Provincial Parliament from all parties during the Federation's Provincial Lobby Week from March 7-10 in Toronto.
The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario is the province's largest student organization representing over 350,000 college, undergraduate and graduate students from Thunder Bay to Windsor.
SOURCE Canadian Federation of Students
For further information: Rajean Hoilett, Chairperson, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 289-923-3534; Gabrielle Ross-Marquette, National Executive Representative, at email@example.com or 647-918-9864; Alastair Woods, Government & Media Relations Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 647-378-8942