Over a thousand march in Toronto for accessible, high quality education

TORONTO, March 21, 2015 /CNW/ - Well over one thousand people joined striking education workers today at a rally for accessible, high quality education in Ontario. Organized by locals 3903 and 3902 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the rally began at Yonge-Dundas Square in downtown Toronto and marched to Queen's Park, where participants called on the provincial government to reduce tuition fees and to restore funding for post-secondary education in Ontario.

Thirty years ago, public funding covered about 80 per cent of the operating budgets of Ontario universities. Today, it accounts for less than 50 per cent. Universities are making students pay for the shortfall by dramatically increasing their tuition fees.

"Skyrocketing tuition fees are eroding the accessibility of education, especially in Ontario," says Faiz Ahmed, chair of CUPE 3903, which represents striking teaching and graduate assistants at York University. "Education is a collective right, not an individual investment. As a signatory to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Canada must uphold its commitment to free university education. Our rally is about reminding the government of its responsibility to make education more accessible."

In Ontario, graduate students have fought for and won funding packages that attempt to offset tuition fee increases, but their value is constantly undermined by ongoing fee hikes.

"Despite what the university claims about my hourly wage, these increases completely wipe out my paycheque, once tuition fees have been deducted," notes Adam Proctor, an international Master's student at York University. "We are trying to end the vicious cycle in which rising tuition fees degrade the wages and living conditions of all students."

The rally attracted widespread support from labour, student, parent and community organizations from across Toronto, including the Ontario Federation of Labour, the Toronto & York Region Labour Council, the Steelworkers' Toronto Area Council, and the Canadian Federation of Students – Ontario.

SOURCE CUPE 3903

For further information: Garry Sran, Event organizer, 647-567-7726 (mobile), garry_sran@hotmail.com

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3903.cupe.ca

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