TORONTO, April 23, 2015 /CNW/ - Ontario's 2015 Budget is another missed opportunity to address the chronic underfunding of post-secondary education that has made Ontario the most expensive province in which to attend college or university. Despite some changes to student financial assistance, the budget contains no new funding to address the affordability crisis at Ontario post-secondary institutions.
"For years, students have been sounding the alarm that Ontario's system of post-secondary education is unaffordable and inaccessible," said Alastair Woods, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "We have proposed thoughtful and practical solutions to address high tuition fees and increasing student debt levels, yet the government responds with empty rhetoric and recycled promises."
This year, students recommended reducing tuition fees to 2005 levels, a 50 per cent reduction in graduate student tuition fees during the research and thesis-writing portion of a graduate degree, re-integrating international students into public health insurance and specifically earmarking funds to prevent, mitigate and address sexual violence on college and university campuses. Additionally, students proposed cost saving and revenue generation options to pay for our priorities.
The budget announces changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), including a loan rehabilitation program, indexation of repayable and non-repayable aid to inflation, changes to pre-study financial contributions and de-coupling of grants and loans during the OSAP application process. While the government claims these changes are about providing more choice, students believe they will only increase access to debt without addressing the up-front costs of post-secondary education.
"It is ironic this budget is titled Building Ontario Up, since students will continue to be dragged down by high tuition fees and ballooning student debt loads," said Anna Goldfinch, National Executive Representative for the Federation. "The government must have the political will to make meaningful investments to build a system of post-secondary education that is truly affordable and accessible for all Ontarians."
The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario is the province's oldest and largest student organization, representing over 350,000 college, undergraduate and graduate students in all regions of the province.
SOURCE Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario