The Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities announced the continuation of the Tuition Fee Framework with no support for students outside of the continuation of a tuition fee freeze. This current one-year tuition freeze for colleges and universities will be extended by an additional year onto 2021-2022. While students welcome the freeze, the Ontario government has repeatedly ignored the voices of students asking for real action to improve post-secondary education accessibility and public funding especially in light of the toll the pandemic has taken on students. The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario recognizes the impacts this announcement will have on International students’ access to education.
Students across the province have seen more than $1 billion cut from OSAP funding under this government. Students are calling for OSAP grants and a freeze on OSAP interest but have been ignored. For the third provincial budget in a row, base operating funding for post-secondary institutions has been decreased. Students have witnessed unprecedented and destructive cuts to Laurentian University under the inappropriate CCAA process while the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and the Ontario government have done nothing to save this institution which is a cornerstone of Indigenous, Francophone and Northern education. Students continue to see cuts to post-secondary education rather than help from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities.
“Although this announcement is positive, it also attempts to cover up this government’s continued defunding of public post-secondary education, the plummeting financial aid supports for students and xenophobic attacks on International Students through rising differential fees and restricting access into the province.” – Anushka Sokhi & Prabhjot Singh Ahuja, co-commissioners for the International Students Constituency of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario
Today’s tuition announcement provides little relief for students and, significantly, increases the burden put on out-of-province and International students. Without appropriate and adequate funding for the post-secondary education sector, the government is further encouraging the reliance on and exploitation of International students through differential fees. The average undergraduate tuition fees for international students are more than four and a half times the sticker price for Canadian undergraduates. In 2020-21, the average undergraduate tuition fees for International students were $32,019.
“Yet, these same International students who are faced with these predatory and exploitative practices because of the underfunding of PSE in Ontario, are now being singled out by Premier Doug Ford to be barred from entering the province. After putting the cost of educating people in Ontario largely on the backs of international students, he is now putting the failures of his government’s pandemic response on these same students.” Anushka Sokhi & Prabhjot Singh Ahuja, co-commissioners for the International Students Constituency of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario.
The provincial government’s call to stop International students from entering the province is xenophobic and racist. International students are not driving the third wave of the pandemic. Instead, it is the poor policies and choices made by the Ontario government. The Ontario government’s refusal and failure to institute adequate paid sicks days, ignoring of important recommendations from the Ontario science table, a confusing and mismanaged provincial vaccine roll out, political interference with priority hotspots, the ensuing vaccine postal code bingo and the disastrous handling of outbreaks in long-term care homes are the reasons as to what is driving this pandemic and resulting in unnecessary deaths. International students entering the country follow strict testing before and upon entry, along with quarantine protocol. Again, it is not International students driving this pandemic.
It is deplorable for the Premier to use xenophobic, dog-whistle politics to blame International students and attempt to shift the blame of the third wave of the pandemic in Ontario to hide his own failures. Politicians in Canada and Ontario have a long history of using xenophobic and racist towards racialized communities, using them for political fear mongering. It is deplorable that in 2021, Premier Doug Ford would continue this type of hateful and xenophobic rhetoric. The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario calls upon Premier Doug Ford and Minister Ross Romano to immediately apologize to International students and rescind their request to restrict International students from entering Ontario.
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