What an exciting month it has been! Throughout all my involvement with OUSA, never before have I been as proud of our organization as I am now, with several ground-breaking developments in Ontario's post-secondary system resulting from our advocacy and partnerships with government. So, where to begin?
It's most fitting to begin by discussing the recent provincial budget announcements. Last Thursday, I had the honour of attending the provincial budget lock-up, where members of Steering Committee and I had the opportunity to review the budget before it was released publicly. Upon review, OUSA was extremely supportive of many of the changes included around financial aid, with over half a dozen of OUSA's recommendations being adopted completely. This included an elimination of tuition and education tax credits, and more upfront financial aid support for lower and middle income families. There will also be a decrease in the expected parental and spousal contributions to students' education. With the new Ontario Student Grant being applied regardless of when a student graduated high school or whether they take a gap between their years of study, more students will be able to benefit. OUSA applauds these changes, as they represent some of the most positive modernizations to our financial aid system in years, as well as OUSA's effectiveness.
Outside of the budget announcements, OUSA's Steering Committee has kept busy finalizing our three policy papers for the upcoming Spring General Assembly, which will take place at Brock University later in March. These three papers are Online Learning, Students with Disabilities, and Student Employment, and all include extensive updates to ensure OUSA's advocacy is effective moving forward. Each member campus has now also chosen its delegates for the conference, and will be training them in the coming weeks to ensure they accurately represent the hundreds of thousands of students who are members of OUSA.
Otherwise, OUSA's main priorities at this time are to begin preparation for transitioning the incoming Steering Committee, as many of OUSA's successors have now been named. OUSA has also had to say goodbye to Jasmine Irwin, our fantastic Communications Director, and will be hiring a new person in the coming weeks. OUSA's team is also looking forward to our Partners in Higher Education Dinner, which will see Sheldon Levy, Deputy Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, as the keynote speaker. OUSA is excited for this annual staple in the organization's cycle, which brings together students, universities, and government staff in celebration of a year of positive change and continued partnership.
If you ever have any questions about OUSA's work or would like to learn more, please see OUSA's website at ousa.ca or contact me at [email protected]