Access to post secondary education is a critical part of responding to the COVID-19 crisis and ensuring a successful social and economic recovery. Unfortunately, decades of government funding shortfalls have created barriers to accessing education. Ontario students pay some of the highest tuition fees in the country and graduate with an average $28,000 in debt.
Members of the Ontario Universities and Colleges Coalition (OUCC), which represents over 435,000 faculty, staff, and students from every public postsecondary institution in Ontario, stand in solidarity with students, educators, and parents in their demand for adequate public funding to allow for a safe reopening of schools in September.
Today, the Ontario Universities and Colleges Coalition sent the following letter to Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano and Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton.
Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) applications for the 2020-2021 academic year opened on May 20. The application now requires students to complete a mandatory “information module” that purports to highlight financial literacy. Students are disappointed in this addition to the OSAP application process, which is both patronizing and does not address the true financial barriers to post-secondary education.
Addressed to Federal Government, Provincial Governments, Canada’s Research Funding Councils, and University senior administrators: The COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges to graduate students across the country. We recognize the steps taken by both the federal and provincial governments, and post-secondary institutions, to protect not just graduate students, but all students, faculty, and staff. These measures include the six-month suspension of student loan repayment and the expansion of the Canada Summer Jobs program. These measures are important steps towards redressing the financial burden on students. However, we would like to emphasize that graduate students are facing additional challenges that have not been addressed. We, the undersigned, want to draw your attention to these unique issues that graduate students are facing as the result of the ongoing crisis, and ask that Federal Government, Provincial Governments, Canada’s Research Funding Councils, and University senior administrators take immediate actions to address these issues.
Students’ unions, founded by and for students, are fully autonomous organizations governed by democratically elected boards and executives. They are membership-driven organizations funded by their members through dues. University administrations do not have the authority and cannot justify violating the legal autonomy of students’ unions or any other campus unions.
Today, the Divisional Court released their unanimous decision deeming the Student Choice Initiative unlawful. From the streets, to the court room, the students united, will never be defeated.
Announced in the Ontario Budget, the Ford government’s reckless new market-based approach to funding postsecondary education will fundamentally compromise the integrity of Ontario’s higher education system. This alarming shift in education funding will create greater inequity, hurt students, and threaten the quality of education in our province.
Ontario faculty are warning that the Ford government’s so called “performance” funding model for postsecondary education is reckless, ineffective, and dangerous. The new funding model will link 60 per cent of government funding for universities ($2.2 billion dollars) to an arbitrary set of metrics chosen with no consultation. These metrics will not actually measure “performance” but are likely to be used as an excuse to cut university budgets. Across Ontario, OCUFA estimates that this new funding model could mean cuts of over $500 million dollars that will substantially undermine our postsecondary institutions’ academic missions and mandates.
The Ford government has introduced legislation to cap increases in total compensation at an average (benefits and wages) of 1% per year for all public sector employees, including university and college workers. The legislation will affect all collective agreements on expiry and last three years. Current bargaining will continue, and while the bill has not passed, it may apply retroactively to deals reached since June 5, 2019.
The Canadian Federation of Students and the York Federation of Students have jointly filed a legal challenge against the Government of Ontario’s Student Choice Initiative, on the basis that the government lacked the authority to implement such a policy and acted with improper purpose. “This policy is a direct attack on students’ ability to organize and provide essential services on campus,” said Sofia Descalzi, incoming chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. “It is a clear attempt to silence students’ unions and student organizations who have a long history of holding administrations and governments accountable when it comes to creating accessible, affordable and safer campuses.”
June 7 marks one year of resisting government cuts to public services, education, health care and decent work. We will be hitting the streets across Ontario to show that we didn't vote for that. Join an action in a community near you! Actions are being organized right now for EITHER June 7 or June 8. RSVP here and we will send you details of the actions in your area for you to take part.
Join students from across the province in a walk out on Wednesday March 20 at 12 pm to demonstrate to the Ontario government that we will not tolerate their attacks on students.
Students and workers are appalled by the Doug Ford government’s shameful attempt to use a tuition fee reduction as a political gimmick to try and hide a $600 million cut to student grants, a $440 million cut to university and college budgets, all and a petty and vindictive attack on democratic students’ unions.
Ontario’s universities and colleges are vital spaces where a culture of rich academic debate and free expression should be fostered. Core to the mandate of our postsecondary institutions is the advancement of knowledge, and that requires our campuses to be places where all community members have the right to speak their minds and respectfully challenge each other intellectually. Faculty associations, labour unions, and student unions deeply believe in these rights, and will continue our collective work to uphold them.