Infrastructure investment welcomed but students remain concerned about mounting financial barriers

    TORONTO, May 25 /CNW/ - Students welcome news that the federal and
provincial governments are injecting money into post-secondary education
infrastructure, but warn that investing in buildings must accompany an
investment in students to have meaningful economic impact.
    "Ontario students believe that the post-secondary education sector holds
an important key to economic stimulus and renewal," said Shelley Melanson,
Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "Expanding access
to post-secondary education is critical to creating the highly-skilled
workforce needed to help pull Ontario out of the current economic crisis."
    "We're pleased that both the provincial and federal governments are
hearing our call to invest in post-secondary education, but students need
assistance to access these new spaces," said Melanson. "The money announced
today is badly needed, but it comes only weeks after the provincial government
cut tens of millions of dollars from the Textbook and Technology Grant and
Distance Grant. Students need a direct investment into improving access by
reducing tuition fees and restoring these grants."
    Earlier this year, the Federation released a proposal for a stimulus
package that called for investment in post-secondary education's "Big Three:"
infrastructure, quality and access. Included in this package was a call for a
$1.7 billion investment in infrastructure to close the existing gap in
deferred maintenance. Along with an investment in infrastructure, the stimulus
package proposal also called for investment to target quality improvements,
like reducing class sizes, and to address mounting financial barriers.
    In addition to government funding, today's announcement sets out
investment targets from the private sector and universities and colleges
themselves. "Students need to be fully supported by government, but relying on
the private sector during an economic recession could weaken the impact such
an investment could make," said Melanson. "Students hope that today's news
will not further pressure cash-strapped institutions to raise money for
infrastructure investments, which could result in a higher financial burden on
students and their families."

    The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario unites more than 300,000
college and university students across the province.

For further information:

For further information: Shelley Melanson, CFS-Ontario Chairperson,
(416) 925-3825 or (416) 882-9927 (cell)

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