March 30th, 2021
March 30th, 2021
QUEEN’S PARK – Laura Mae Lindo, Official Opposition NDP critic for Colleges and Universities, said Tuesday that Doug Ford’s latest budget put Ontario’s colleges and universities — and students — on even shakier ground.
Universities alone said they needed $500 million in that budget, and the NDP also called for help for students in the form of a pause on OSAP payments or interest accumulation. Instead, schools got just one fifth, about $100 million, and only in the form of a one-time payment — while students got next-to-no help at all.
“Between the impact of the pandemic and chronic underfunding for decades under Liberal and Conservative governments, universities and colleges have seen their funds plummet and their costs rise. Jobs, courses and programs are at risk. Despite their calls for help, Ford's latest budget provides no respite for the sector. He made a deep, $750 million cut in 2019, and now he’s only throwing them crumbs,” said Lindo. “Students and their schools need a lifeline so they can get back on a solid footing.”
Lindo was joined at a press conference Tuesday by Patty Coates, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), and Sébastien Lalonde, Chairperson, Canadian Federation of Students – Ontario, to discuss the funding crisis, and the devastating impact this is having on students and people working in post-secondary institutions.
Lindo said post-secondary students have carried a burden during the pandemic that the government is ignoring.
“Countless students have no financial stability right now, especially since youth jobs and internships have been decimated by the pandemic,” said Lindo. “Ontario’s students pay some of the country's highest tuition fees and hold massive amounts of student debt. And student mental health concerns, as well as incidents of racism and discrimination on campus, have been exploding — yet Ford’s budget ignores post-secondary students almost entirely."
Lindo said if this were an NDP budget, it would reverse Ford’s cuts to OSAP, pause interest accrual and student loan repayments until the end of the pandemic, and provide direct and immediate funding for students to access culturally responsive mental health services.
Patty Coates, President, Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL)
“Now, more than ever, Ontario needs sustainable solutions that address years of chronically underfunded public services. High quality, universally accessibly, publicly funded post-secondary education will be integral to a just COVID-19 recovery.”
Sébastien Lalonde, Chairperson, Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario
"Over $1 billion in student financial aid (OSAP) has been cut over two years by the Ford government. Students are the cornerstone to rebuilding our economy post-COVID 19, but Minister Ross Romano and the Ford government are adding more and more barriers for students, especially marginalized students, to access post-secondary education."