Toronto – Results of a recent survey, conducted by Ipsos on behalf of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario, have shed new light on the Ontario government’s plans for post-secondary education.

The survey looked at Ontarians access to financial assistance through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) and collected information on average student debt among recent graduates. It also asked respondents to state their views on the tuition fee framework and the importance of student consultations.

Results from the survey are available online at:


The survey found that two-thirds of current students (67%) and recent graduates over the past 10 years (66%) have received some form of OSAP.

Among current students, just over four in 10 (43%) received the OSAP “free tuition” grant that was implemented in 2017.

Seven in 10 (72%) recent graduates reported having some debt once they graduated. The average debt for recent university graduates was $31,800 and was $25,900 for recent college graduates.

“These numbers show that student debt continues to be a major problem for students and families in this province,” said Felipe Nagata, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. “As a result of the government’s $670 million cut to OSAP, low-income students are taking out more loans which they now have to pay back with interest the moment they graduate.”


The majority of respondents (95%) indicated that they think public consultations should be an important part of the process when the government reviews the Ontario tuition fee framework. The majority (89%) also agreed that students are the most important stakeholders to be consulted in the process (43% strongly agreed).

“Ontarians understand that students are the primary stakeholders in the post-secondary system,” said Nagata. “However, this government has consistently failed to engage students in any form of consultations ahead of major decisions affecting the sector. Students contribute billions of dollars a year into post-secondary institutions and deserve to be involved in consultations about the future of our campuses.”


Based on the results of the survey, over nine in 10 Ontarians (92%) believe in access to post-secondary education for all students and are willing to support government funded programs to help low-income families.

When asked about changes to the current tuition fee framework, 85% of respondents indicated that they would support a new regulated tuition framework for both domestic and international students.

“People in Ontario are not okay with exploiting international students to make up for a lack of public funding for post-secondary education,” said Nagata. “International students contribute over $8 billion a year into the economy, pay taxes and often go onto to become permanent residents. It’s time that the government stops treating these students as cash-cows.”


The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario recently launched the We The Students campaign to call on the Ontario government to meet the following demands:

  • Provide more grants not loans;
  • Eliminate tuition fees for all students;
  • Increase public funding for public education;
  • Protect students’ independent voices; and,
  • Defend the right to organize.


  1. Two-thirds of both current students (67%) and recent graduates (66%) have received OSAP.
  2. Just over four in 10 (43%) current students received the new OSAP grant that was implemented in 2017.
  3. Seven in 10 (72%) recent graduates had debt once they graduated.
  4. 85% strongly or somewhat support a new regulated tuition framework for both domestic and international students.
  5. Over 90%of Ontarians support equal access to post-secondary education regardless of income, and the continuation of the OSAP free grant program to help low-income individuals/families.


These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between January 10 to 15, 2019, on behalf of Canadian Federation of Students. For this survey, a sample of 1,360 adults living in Ontario was polled (including oversamples to obtain n=205 parents 13 to 16 years old; n=256 parents of 17-30 years old, and n=250 of those attending a post-secondary institution). Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±3.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Ontarian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information contact:

Ian McRae, Government Relations and Policy Coordinator: 416-925-3825 or 306-852-0128

Felipe Nagata, Chairperson: 416-925-3825 or