Take it Over
Ontario Liberal Party
10 St. Mary Street, Suite 210
Toronto, ON M4Y 1P9
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
RE: OPEN LETTER TO THE CFS-ONTARIO
Dear Mr. Sorbara,
Thank you for your letter requesting clarification about the Canadian Federation of Students' Ontario Election Report Card and the commitment made by the New Democratic Party to increase per student funding. We share your desire to ensure that student voters are not mislead by promises meant only to win their votes rather than genuine attempts to improve post‐secondary education.
In our Report Card, we gave the NDP an A for funding because they committed to increasing per student funding to above the national average, if elected. After receiving your letter, we again asked NDP representatives to clarify their commitment. They have reaffirmed that if elected they will work with stakeholder organizations to develop a multi‐year funding framework that progressively increases per student funding to above the national average.
Ontario has the lowest per student funding in Canada, $15,000 less per student than in Alberta. As a result, students in Ontario study in the largest classes, have the least contact with their professors and pay the most for their education. Unfortunately, the Ontario Liberal Party has chosen not to make per student funding for post‐ secondary education a priority. This is regrettable, but not a reason to penalize other parties who have made commitments to improve per‐student funding for post‐secondary education.
The Canadian Federation of Students is deeply concerned with the current state and future of higher education in Ontario. We must not kid ourselves: real access to a universal system is not possible with tuition fees of $6,600 on average. Tuition fees in Ontario have been the highest in Canada for three years in a row, rising by up to 59 per cent in the past six years.
The silence of the OLP on their future tuition fee policy paired with their record of fee hikes earned them an F. Rather than addressing the cost of record‐high tuition fees, the OLP has promised to offer a grant to some students while allowing tuition fees for everyone else to rise. According to Colleges Ontario, nearly two‐thirds of college applicants do not apply to college from high school. This means that, regardless of income, the OLP plan will automatically disqualify the majority of Ontario's college students from grant eligibility. Students in professional programs and graduate students are also excluded from the accessing this grant. Despite our concerns with the proposed grant, we gave your party an A for addressing student debt. We took a similar approach with the NDP's funding commitment.
With ten days remaining in this campaign, we urge your party to improve the eligibility of your proposed grants, and to commit to stopping tuition fee hikes. Such commitments will boost the OLP's grade from a C+ to above the NDP's B+ and we would be happy to promote such commitments.
I want to acknowledge the seriousness with which your party has approached the post‐secondary education sector. The financial commitments made by the Ontario Liberal Party to higher education are substantive and we look forward to continuing to work together to improve the affordability of college and university education.
On behalf of the more than 300,000 college, undergraduate and graduate students who are members of the Canadian Federation of Students‐Ontario, I thank you again for your correspondence,
Sandy Hudson, Chairperson
Canadian Federation of Students‐Ontario
As the 2011 provincial election approaches, students are listening closely to what all of the political parties are promising for the sector. After years of tuition fee increases under the Reaching Higher funding framework, Ontario is now the most expensive province in Canada in which to study. Instead of providing substantial financial relief, government policy has allowed students to accumulate record-high debt and forced students to work longer hours while studying. This generation of students is being asked to study more, work more and pay more than ever before.
This document outlines students’ priorities and recommendations for the post-secondary education sector. There is no greater opportunity than now for any potential governing party to step up and establish these recommendations as central components of its post-secondary education policy if it truly wants to put students first.
Election Day is October 6. Take it Over!
Students, youth and Ontarians of all generations are coming together to shape this election by registering, voting and sharing our voices.
Post-secondary education in Ontario is facing a crisis. Years of underfunding have been downloaded onto students and have resulted in tuition fees that have increased at 370 per cent the rate of inflation. Since more than 70 per cent of new jobs require some form of post-secondary credential, this crisis has negative implications for the future of Ontario's economy.
A generation in debt
Today, students with loans graduate with an average of $37,000 of debt after a four-year degree. This same amount could be a down payment on a house costing $740,000. A generation of students are graduating with mortgaged-sized debt loads and this has negative implications for their future choices and participation in the economy.
Who is paying?
Public institutions are more privately funded today than ever before. In 1990, fees paid by students comprised only 20 per cent of the operating costs of post-secondary institutions. Today, students and their families are paying for half the cost of running institutions.
Ontario is the worst in the country
Ontario has the lowest rate of public funding for colleges and universities, less than half the per student funding in Alberta. To make up for underfunding, students in Ontario pay the highest tuition fees in the country, double or triple the fees that students in Quebec or Newfoundland and Labrador pay. Despite paying the most, Ontario's students study in the largest classes and have the least access to their professors and instructors.
Ontarians who believe that college and university should be accessible are calling for all political parties to commit to fixing the crisis in our colleges and universities to earn our support in the Ontario Election on October 6, 2011.
Bookmarks and Leaflets coming soon!