TORONTO, Feb. 28, 2017 /CNW/ - College and university student representatives from across Ontario are meeting with Members of Provincial Parliament from all three parties this week as part of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario 2017 Lobby Week. Throughout the week, students will be presenting their ideas for the 2017 provincial budget in addition to discussing legislative priorities and party platforms for the 2018 elections.
"The government took significant steps forward in the 2016 provincial budget with the creation of the Ontario Student Grant, but we know we still have a long road to walk towards building a truly accessible and affordable system of higher education," said Rajean Hoilett, Chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "To this end, we have put forward thoughtful, practical and reasonable proposals to strengthen and improve Ontario's colleges and universities."
This years lobby document, Impact with Investment, outlines several key recommendations students are making to improve post-secondary education in the province, including:
- Progressively reducing, and eventually eliminating tuition fees for all students through a 50/50 cost-sharing model with the federal government.
- Developing a four-year Strategic Student Success Fund to drive improvement and innovation in academic support services for students.
- Earmark funding for mental health support services in college and university operating grants and create a Mental Health & Wellness Division within the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development.
- Reintegrate international students into the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP).
- Introduce culturally appropriate and trauma-informed trainings on indigenous realities, experiences and histories to post-secondary faculty, staff and administrators.
- Invest in an Open Educational Resources Innovation fund to research and develop open access textbooks, course materials and programs.
Students are meeting with over half of all Members of Provincial Parliament, including Premier Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development Deb Matthews and Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown.
"As we inch closer to the 2018 provincial election, bringing forth our ideas and concerns directly to decision makers is more important than ever," said Hoilett. "It's not just about influencing this year's budget, but also party platforms and the direction of post-secondary education under our next government. We can achieve even more tangible and positive change for students in Ontario – but only if we have the courage to say yes."
The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario unites more than 350,000 college and university students in all regions of the province.
SOURCE Canadian Federation of Students
For further information: Rajean Hoilett, Chairperson, at 289-923-3534 (cellphone) or [email protected]; Alastair Woods, Media & Government Relations Coordinator, at 647-378-8942 (cellphone) or [email protected]