Students Hopeful Infrastructure Announcement Will Meet Their Demands



    Call on government to release remaining federal funding

    TORONTO, Jan. 29 /CNW/ - Students across Ontario expressed some tentative
satisfaction at the Ontario Government's announcement to spend $200 million on
campus renewal projects. The funds are targeted for improving energy
efficiency, campus safety, and the renewal and repair of existing
infrastructure.
    "The average age of a university building in Ontario is 30 years, and
many facilities are desperately in need of repair," said Jen Hassum
Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "We have been
calling for public funds to ensure campus buildings are in good repair and
environmentally sustainable."
    During the last provincial election students called on all political
parties for a commitment to dedicate Ontario's share of the federal
government's $1 billion Infrastructure Trust Fund - $390 million according the
2006 Federal Budget - to a Sustainable Campus Building and Maintenance Fund
that would address the environmental impact of Ontario campuses via
environmental retrofits, campus greening, and infrastructure renewal.
    Today's funding announcement is a signal that college and universities
should not be levying specific ancillary fees for capital expenditures. A
$200 million class action lawsuit against Ontario's public community colleges
has been launched in the wake of expanding use of illegal ancillary fees for
campus infrastructure improvements. In its pre-budget submission to the
Ontario government, the Canadian Federation of Students called for an
additional $50 million to offset the current revenue stream to Ontario
colleges based on illegal ancillary fees. "We have seen college and some
university administrators increasing ancillary fees to fund core operational
expenses, which is illegal," said Hassum. "The provincial government should
ensure that the money is transferred with an understanding that universities
and colleges should be reducing their reliance on ancillary fees for
constructing or repairing campus buildings."
    The $200 million announcement is only half of the initial $390 million
promised by the federal government in the 2006 budget. In addition, the 2007
Federal Budget also dedicated $315 million to Ontario's post-secondary
education institutions to be released in the 2008 budget year. "Students look
forward to a subsequent announcement from the Ontario government to ensure
that it spends the remaining $500 million that was promised to Ontario in both
the 2006 and 2007 federal budgets."

    The Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario unites over 300,000 college
and university students from 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); Jesse Greener, Campaigns and Government
Relations Coordinator, CFS-Ontario: (416) 301-5747 (cell); James Beaton,
Researcher, CFS-Ontario: (416) 925-3825 or (416) 880-8515 (cell)


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