TORONTO, ON – Students today are disappointed and once again left behind from the 2021 Ontario Budget Day announcement. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a wide-ranging and devastating impact on post-secondary students across the province. Students already facing some of the highest tuition rates in the country and the lowest per-capita student funding are also now facing historic unemployment levels, reductions in services and mental health supports, and increased barriers to education for all but those who can afford it. Students are resilient and have done more than their part through this pandemic. At a time where 70% of jobs now require some level of post-secondary education, we were hopeful that the provincial government’s budget for 2021 would recognize that quality, equitable and accessible education is the cornerstone to building back our economy.
“Students need tangible, meaningful action, and they need it now. Hundreds of thousands of Ontario post-secondary students need less, not more, barriers to access post-secondary education. So why is this government intent on keeping students trapped in a cycle of debt, putting up more even roadblocks for students, especially for marginalized students, and refusing to adequately invest in our education and the province’s future?” asks Chairperson Sébastien Lalonde.
After over a year of facing uncertainty about their education, health, and employment prospects, students are sick and tired of hollow promises from this government that they care about them. From the disastrous cuts of over $1 billion to OSAP since the 2019 budget and austerity measures in the 2020 budget, we see in budget 2021 that this government offered inadequate funding for post-secondary institutions, but not real, tangible funding and support students have consistently asked for to help alleviate the lived realities in this moment of the pandemic. Budgets are about priorities and students do not feel that their priorities are represented. Budget 2021 continues the unsettling and negligent trend of eroding PSE through underfunding and the increased privatization of public education. While students have been asking for renewed public investment in education, Kayla Weiler, National Executive Representative for the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario notes.
“No one knows the post-secondary education in Ontario better than students, and they are telling us that the government’s plans not only lower the quality and accessibility of their education, but are fundamentally ignoring the most pressing funding needs. Student voices not only continue to be ignored by this government, they have repeatedly tried to silence them.”
We need a just recovery for students, and this starts with appropriate funding for PSE. While students have been asking for a real investment in education and the province’s post-pandemic future, we see once again with this budget that the government continues to propose short-sighted and wasteful schemes for the few and erode post-secondary funding for the many.
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 further information or to set up an interview contact: Michael Butler, Government Relations and Policy Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 437-771-2129