OTTAWA, January 21, 2019 – The Government of Ontario recently announced changes to post-secondary education in the province that have serious ramifications for students. Veiled behind the announcement of a 10% tuition fee reduction, the province has also cut grants for low-income students, eliminated the 6-month grace period on loans, cut post-secondary institution funding, and altered campus student life as we know it.
The “Student Choice Initiative,” as it is referred to in the Ontario Government’s announcement, means that fees for what the government considers to be “non-essential” student services will soon be optional. Without enough buy-in from students, who now also have to deal with the pressures of reduced financial aid, the services available on post-secondary campuses will suffer cuts or disappear entirely. While the details remain vague, this could affect:
- Student transit passes;
- Health and dental insurance plans;
- Campus life (i.e. Welcome Week, campus bars, clubs and groups, events);
- Support centers (i.e. peer support, equity centers, food banks);
- Campus newspapers;
- Fair and transparent academic appeals;
- Student representation on important committees (i.e. curriculum committees);
- Student employment opportunities; and
- Federal, provincial, and local advocacy efforts.
It’s disappointing to see government positioning this move as being “for the students,” when in fact these services exist on campus because students democratically voted to have them.
“Students stand to lose a lot from this decision,” says Adam Brown, CASA Chair and University of Alberta Students’ Union VP External. “It’s more important than ever that students be informed about the services provided by their student associations on campus, and that they stand up for them. In particular, I would encourage students to learn about the work that student associations do behind-the-scenes. This includes non-partisan advocacy work, which is critical for keeping governments and school administrations accountable, and for making sure there are consequences when students’ needs are ignored.”
The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations stands with all affected students to oppose the actions taken that threaten to reduce or eliminate student services, campus life, and advocacy efforts in the province.
Established in 1995, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit, national student organization composed of 23 student associations representing 280,000 post-secondary students from coast to coast. Through its partnership with the Quebec Student Union (QSU) and its 8 members representing 79,000 students, CASA presents a national student voice to the federal government. CASA advocates for a Canadian post-secondary education system that is accessible, affordable, innovative, and of the highest quality.
Lindsay Boyd, Communications and Public Relations Officer