Doug Ford Takes A Swing At The Most Vulnerable – Low-Income Students

Doug Ford is back at it again, leaving arguably the most vulnerable with less. Yesterday morning, Ford announced that there would be several cutbacks to the Ontario Student Assistance Program, as well as cutting tuition by ten percent. It seems as though the Ford government is looking to undo things that were put in place by the Liberal party simply for the sake of that, without evaluating the effects it may have.

OSAP funding will be reverting back to the 2016-2017 funding model, which means that low income students in the $30,000 or less per year income bracket, will not have tuition covered through grants anymore, as well as reducing the amount of grants received by those in higher income brackets. The cap for OSAP will once again be lowered from $170,000 per year to $140,000. This also comes with the elimination of the six month grace period, in which students have six months to pay back their loans, interest free, meaning that students will be charged interest on their loans, from the moment they graduate. Furthermore, students will now have to be out of high school for six years, as opposed to the original four, to be considered independent from their parents, and have their OSAP funding be based on the students income.

As for the ten percent tuition drop, this cost is expected to be absorbed by the universities themselves, through cuts to services available to student. Also, students will now have the opportunity to opt out of extra fees associated with their costs of tuition, like student union fees and others that the government deems non-essential. As students opt out of paying these fees, student governments and unions that are democratically elected to improve student life on campus will be left with little to no funding. This creates difficulty in these groups organising workshops to help students network and get jobs, as well as social events to help with stress and mental health problems, like having therapy dogs come in before the exam period to help everyone de-stress.

Many students in Weston come from low-income households, which makes post-secondary education that much more unattainable. Our MPP, Faisal Hassan, is a member of the New Democrats, who campaigned for free tuition for Ontario students. To express how you feel about these changes, you can call Hassan’s office at 416-243-7984. For more information on this, follow this link to be taken to the Government of Ontario Website.

Author: Katherine Collier

Katherine is a fifth-year student at York University. She graduated in 2019 with an Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts: Music and is currently working towards her Bachelor of Education. Her family has been a part of the Weston community for over forty years. Weston is an integral part of her identity, and she would not have it any other way. Katherine is studying to become a secondary music teacher, and as such, many of her articles will focus on children and their future in our community. She has been writing for The Artichoke Magazine at York University for the past four years and is taking on the role of Editor-in-Chief for it this year.

7 thoughts on “Doug Ford Takes A Swing At The Most Vulnerable – Low-Income Students”

  1. LOL – therapy dogs! It’s really too much.

    I think you have something backward here Katherine, perhaps just an inadvertent mistake on your part. From my understanding of the policy changes, it doesn’t appear that “low income students in the $30,000 or less per year income bracket, will not have tuition covered through grants anymore”. The share of total grant money directed at lower income students will be increased, while higher income students will get less.

    And as for governments “evaluating the effects (policy) may have.” It seems to me that this is where the Liberal programme faltered. The Auditor General’s 2018 report noted that following the previous government’s changes, OSAP went up by 25% , with an increased cost to the province of $2 billion, without any quantifiable increase in access.

    Now, I am no Ford booster, and I don’t agree with the policy wholeheartedly. For one, I wouldn’t have dropped tuition across the board by 10%. Ontario does not have a higher education access problem. Canada’s population has the highest proportion of degree holders in the world, and Ontario ranks in first place among all provinces and territories. Yet Canada ranks below every other G7 country in worker productivity except for Japan.

    Successive federal and Ontario governments have relentlessly courted and pumped funds into the higher education racket, on the basis of 1960’s era notions of education policy (i.e. encouraging quantity over quality). There is an arguable case that this has now so thoroughly devalued post-secondary education that it is damaging the economy, not to mention the vocational prospects of thousands of young people.

    1. Hello Eric,

      I realize that therapy dogs may seem like a waste, but it was an example that I could give that actually does wonders of good. That being said, student unions also hold events to get to know people within your field and make connections within it, in order to try to accelerate job finding opportunities post-graduation.

      The reason I make the connection between the lower income bracket is that according to the 2016-2017 plan, these students would not have their tuition fully covered, as it is now. Should the Ford government revert back to this and not make any changes, these people in the lowest income bracket will be affected.

  2. Thank you Katherine. This is penalizing our future, targeting student loans and students’ futures.

    This move makes it even more impossible for young people to choose education after high school, leaving more people at risk of under or unemployment.

    You highlight the stupidity of this reversion.

    1. Oh please…..there are so many places to get help. Who says you need to go to university or college? Why not trade schools? Wow so many are blinded by their dislike of the PC that they forget the Liberals fed them BS for 15 years.

  3. To a greater or lesser degree..
    .. in agreement with Eric (and to a point, Truth).

    Evidently, the more “well-to-do”, savvier students took the greatest advantage of the old system and will apparently now, be less able to do so – because it’s suggested that they do have the means to carry heavier debt loads in their more fortunate “snack bracket”.

    As for those students still in need – they will be able to continue borrowing as before, if I’m hearing correctly.

    But, there’s still that nagging problem of paying back a loan.
    (..need a good job, no matter what, right?)

    As for that additional “student fees” issue – for things health, wellness & therapy related?
    Okay, yes.

    But, for certain social clubs & groups on campus?
    (..who amongst us has really wanted to support those very singular religious & political groups?)

    And, doesn’t it sometimes seem that many of those folks (both sides) spend an inordinate amount of time learning how to navigate the available systems for just a little more “free” stuff?

    Growing up, my working class folks reminded me with a nod & a wink,
    “..That money tree in our back yard? Oh, it died.”

    Far too many have been buried by massive post secondary debt, attempting to find that one wonderful high pay & benefits job – usually via the civil service.

    It’s like winning the lottery, for some.

    Teaching?
    Not for everyone.

    And, not everyone can teach classes at the (relatively less stressful) adult, post secondary level – where we see that there are too many associates, adjuncts & fellows waiting for that departmental head or professor to step aside, one way or another.

    Could you not imagine that huge scholastic debts and lack of employment breed a more agitated, greater political divide – with all that continuous finger pointing & sniping, from both sides?

    Probably.

    Everyone’s agitated & pissed, daily – those who don’t have, and those who do.

    If we’re willing to listen to some positive anecdotes out there, it seems that there are quite a few young people (men & women) recognizing that their future just may be in skilled trades – not always easy, but often with a decent paying job awaiting them.

    Who doesn’t need “a guy”?
    (..whenyou need something built, repaired or renovated?)

    And just maybe, as these young skilled trades people learn, mature & manage relationships, the brighter ones might take a chance and start up a small company – perhaps averaging up to 20 employees, with decent paying jobs. (Anecdotally, seems to be the case with many small business owners in the trades, on the west coast.)

    With hard work & some earned luck, those vocational students might just carry much smaller, manageable debts – hopefully, showing other kids that it’s really a pretty decent career path.

    Maybe it time to seriously reintroduce the skilled trade programs in our high schools, as it once was?
    (.. like Weston Collegiate & Vocational School?)

    There should be no shame in working with your head & hands – for boys & girls.

    Any young, Mike Holmes or Bob the Builder types out there?

    Time to suit up
    .. there’s snow to shovel.

    Thanks for your time & patience.

    (p.s. In the meantime, never stop questioning authority figures..
    ..on either side of that political divide.)

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