High tuition fees and mounting student debt put students in financially precarious situations that are only exacerbated in times of crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, students welcome the Ontario Government’s initiative to join the Federal Government in temporarily deferring payments for Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loans. However, students need more than a moratorium on student loan repayment to get through the COVID-19 crisis.
“The interest-free moratorium on student loans, in place until September 30, 2020, is a good first step in easing the financial burden faced by recent graduates,” said Kayla Weiler, the Canadian Federation of Students Ontario representative. “The move to pause loan repayments demonstrates the importance of providing a permanent, interest-free grace period, like the one the Ontario Government scrapped in 2019. While the current measure will help in the short term, there needs to be more substantial changes to financial aid in this province that include more non-repayable grants instead of loans.”
As the crisis is evolving rapidly, students have mounting concerns about access to healthcare, housing, and income security.
“For international students, who are not included in OHIP, the barriers to accessing healthcare are also exacerbated during this pandemic,” said Felipe Nagata, Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario Chairperson. “We urge the Ontario Government to consider our longstanding recommendation of including international students in OHIP to improve access to healthcare to all in this time of crisis.”
The summer is normally a time for students to find a job or increase their hours at their current one to save for the following academic year, but this will likely not be the reality this year. Students in Ontario are joining with others across the country to call for guaranteed access to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit for students, regardless of their employment status. As students are facing increased financial barriers, we also urge the government to establish emergency housing for those who need it, and to suspend rent payments.
We urge the Ontario Government to ensure that students have access to the support they need now, so we can continue to do our part to help flatten the curve.
For more information contact:
Kayla Weiler, National Executive Representative: 416-925-3825 or 519-901-0273