Ontario Students Receive Budget with Guarded Optimism; Questions Remain Surrounding Systemic Concerns

    TORONTO, March 25 /CNW/ - Ontario students are expressing guarded
optimism about today's provincial budget. The budget included new assistance
in the form of textbook and technology grants, a new distance grant for
students from rural or remote communities and increased funding for early
outreach initiatives but fails to address long-term systemic imbalances.
    "The textbook and technology grant speaks to an acknowledgement that the
cost of education is growing outside of traditional indicators such as
tuition, and that relief and support must follow," said David Simmonds,
president of OUSA. "We welcome the recognition of these increasing education
costs, but the amount being distributed will not adequately impact access for
low income and underrepresented students."
    OUSA was appreciative of the government's investment in the Pathways to
Education program. Minister Duncan announced $16 million in one-time funding
targeted at the growth of early outreach strategies within the province. "The
growth of programs like Pathways brings with it growing promise of a real
impact on poverty reduction within the province of Ontario," commented
    OUSA was pleased to see the establishment of a distance grant included in
this budget. The realization of a distance grant recognizes OUSA's ongoing
efforts to affirm the reality that distance can act as a barrier to
post-secondary education. "The creation of a distance grant will help to
enable student choice, student mobility and to ensure that Ontarians can
select the best program for their skills, their needs, and aspirations," said
Chris Locke, Executive Director of OUSA.
    Students were disappointed to see that the government has failed to
follow through on its platform commitment of moving the tuition and education
tax credits to up-front grants for low income and under-represented students.
"The announcements today acknowledge growing potholes on the road to student
success. Ontarians remain last in per-capita funding; rank last in faculty to
student ratios, all while suffering from increasingly high debt loads. In
order to build prosperity and reduce poverty, the post-secondary highway is
beyond patch-work repair, but rather in need of significant reconstruction,"
said Simmonds.

    OUSA represents the interests of more than 140,000 professional and
undergraduate, full- and part-time university students at seven institutions
across the province.
    For more information on OUSA's policy and campaign activities, please
visit www.ousa.ca.

For further information:

For further information: Chris Locke, Executive Director, OUSA, (416)
341-9948; David Simmonds, President, OUSA, (519) 932-0018; Howie Bender,
Director of Communications, OUSA, (416) 341-9948

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Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance

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