TORONTO, Dec. 11, 2013 /CNW/ - Ontario's student leaders wrapped up a week at Queen's park last Friday, having spent Dec 3-6th meeting with politicians from all major provincial parties. Students were highly encouraged by the positive reception to their recommendations for addressing youth unemployment, improvements to financial aid, and increased fiscal accountability at universities, and were particularly encouraged by a number of government announcements that occurred during OUSA's Student Advocacy Conference.
"The provincial government made a number of positive announcements during our conference at Queen's Park that are going to directly benefit university students," said Amir Eftekarpour, President of OUSA and Vice President External of the University Students' Council of Western University. "These policy changes highlight the importance of student advocacy as they stem from conversations OUSA has been engaged in with the government over the last few years."
Policy changes announced by the Province last week included changes to university tuition-billing practices and payment deadlines and changes to Ontario's ancillary fee protocols.
"Minister Duguid's announcements regarding tuition payment deadlines, deferral fees, ancillary fees, and flat-fees will make Ontario's post-secondary system more fair and affordable for students," continued Eftekarpour. "Students look forward to working with the government to continue progress on these important issues."
OUSA also welcomed an announcement from the Ministry of Labour that would see students enrolled in for-credit, unpaid co-op programs in Ontario gaining coverage under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
"We appreciate the Ministry of Labour's proactive work in addressing the loophole in the OHSA that had previously barred unpaid co-op students from being protected," continued Eftekarpour. "As well, Minister Naqvi's commitment to more proactive enforcement of the Employment Standards Act, a recommendation coming out of our government submission, is a strong step towards addressing the problem of unpaid internships. Students look forward to engaging in further discussions on these issues."
Alongside the promising announcements concerning technical tuition fees and workplace protections for students released by the provincial government last week, students participating in last week's OUSA Student Advocacy Conference were met with very warm receptions from all three major political parties.
"We're extremely pleased with the responses we received from Ministers and MPPs regarding many of advocacy asks," said Eftekarpour. "We received a lot of support from all parties on our recommendations to convert tuition and education tax credits into upfront grants, improve employment opportunities for young Ontarians and to address fiscal responsibility on our campuses. Students look forward to seeing this support lead to improvements to our student financial assistance programs and quality enhancements at Ontario's universities."
About the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA)
OUSA represents the interests of over 140,000 professional and undergraduate, full- and part-time university students at eight member associations across Ontario.
SOURCE: Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance
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