May 5th, 2021
The Honourable Ross Romano
Minister of Colleges and Universities
Ministry of Colleges and Universities
5th Floor, 438 University Ave
Toronto, ON M7A 1N3
cc:Deputy Minister Shelly Tapp
Re: OUSA Asks Province to Stop OSAP Clawbacks
Dear Minister Romano,
On behalf of 150,000 professional and undergraduate students in Ontario, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is writing to express concerns regarding the $400M clawback in provincial funding to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) for the 2020-21 school year.
OSAP provides crucial financial aid to students who are in most need of financial assistance. In the spirit of reducing the increased financial burden brought on by COVID-19, the federal government doubled the Canada Student Grant (CSG) in 2020-2021 and has committed to doubling the CSG for the next two years. However, OUSA is increasingly concerned that students in Ontario will not feel the positive effects of this policy change if the provincial government continues to claw back provincial portions from the OSAP calculation. We are concerned that the federal government’s investments in OSAP have been used as a cost-saving opportunity for the provincial government, instead of a means to ensure students are receiving additional financial aid. According to the recently announced fiscal plan and outlook, the provincial government reduced its OSAP expenditure by $400M in 2020-2021. We are concerned that, in the context of mass job loss and income disruptions during a global pandemic, provincial OSAP spending has decreased. Given that OSAP calculations factor in student and parental contributions, the financial impact of COVID-19 suggests that provincial spending should have increased. Students are concerned that the provincial government will continue to claw back provincial funding to OSAP and use the federal government’s additional CSG funding as a cost-savings mechanism for the next two years.
Therefore, OUSA recommends the following:
- The Ministry of Colleges and Universities should stop OSAP clawbacks as a result of increased federal funding through Canada Student Grants.
- The Ministry of Colleges and Universities should invest any savings generated by the doubling of Canada Student Grants back into OSAP to provide more direct support for students who need it most.