TORONTO, ON – Since March college and university students have pleaded for greater financial support to endure the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite promises to support Ontario’s students, the 2020 provincial budget provides students with little to keep their heads above water as the crisis continues.
After major cuts in 2019, the 2020 budget allocations for post-secondary education look largely the same. The funding that is earmarked for post-secondary does little to address the fundamental issues that students are facing after eight months of uncertainty about their education and job prospects.
“Ontario’s Action Plan does nothing to address the years of underfunding that has plagued post-secondary education,” said Sébastien Lalonde, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario, “instead of investing in the post-secondary system as a whole, the government has taken a patchwork approach towards training programs like Micro-credentials.”
This announcement comes after the provincial government slashed OSAP to the tune of $670 million in 2019, adding additional stress to the impacts of COVID-19. It has exacerbated students’ financial struggles, resulting in dwindling job opportunities and higher tuition fees for international students. While the 2020 budget extends the tuition fee freeze for domestic students and provides some new investments in student mental health support, this is simply not enough for students to get by.
“Ensuring that students have barrier-free access to post-secondary education is an essential part of the COVID-19 economic recovery,” said Kayla Weiler, Ontario Representative for the Canadian Federation of Students, “investing in accessible education will ensure that people who have lost their jobs can retrain, and students who have recently graduated will not get stuck in a cycle of debt.”
Now is not the time for small changes. Students have demonstrated resilience in the face of massive changes to education delivery. They returned to classes after a summer of financial uncertainty. It is time for the government to step up and do their part by meeting the call for reduced tuition fees, more grants and greater public investments in post-secondary education for all.
The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario is the oldest and largest student organization in Ontario, representing over 350,000 college and university students in every region of the province.
For more information:
Sébastien Lalonde, Chairperson, at 519-755-0974
Kayla Weiler, National Executive Representative, at 519-901-0273