OUSA has a long record of success in advocating for changes that benefit students at Ontario’s universities. Below is a brief timeline of some of OUSA’s accomplishments in recent years.
- Provincial government announced a $7 million investment in post-secondary mental health funding, to help increase access to mental health and addictions services during COVID-19
- Ministry of Colleges and Universities announced changes to Ontario Regulation 131/16, to make reporting experiences of gender-based violence on post-secondary campuses, more trauma-informed and survivor-centric
- Government of Ontario announces $3.25 million increase in post-secondary mental health funding in 2020-21 (totalling $19.25 million)
- Provincial and federal government implemented a moratorium on all OSAP payments and interest accrual during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Federal government announced a $9B relief package for students including the creation of Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) & doubling of Canada Student Grants for 2020-2021
- Fees funding student transit passes declared mandatory for the implementation of the Student Choice Initiative
- Government doubled funding for the Women’s Campus Safety Grant
- Release of the International Student Strategy;
- Saw commitments from all political parties on the need for mental health investments, with $1.9 billion allocated towards mental health care;
- First-ever provincial-wide survey on campus sexual violence conducted by the provincial government.
- $73 million invested over three years to provide publicly funded psychotherapy to individuals over the age of 18;
- An additional $6 million per year (totalling $9 million) allocated to frontline mental health care workers on campus;
- Ensuring savings from Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) will not reduce the amount of OSAP received;
- Increasing the minimum salary an individual needs to earn before they start repaying the provincial portion of OSAP loans from $25,000 to $35,000;
After consultations with the Highly Skilled Workforce Expert Panel, Ontario is investing $190 million dollars into the Career Kick-Start Strategy, providing more experiential learning opportunities to students across Ontario.
- $365 million of tax credits repurposed into grants for low-income students (The New OSAP);
- Ensured that OUAC and eInfo created links on their websites leading to every university’s accessibility service for students with disabilities.
- Secured $220 million through the Ontario budget for improvements to student financial assistance such as an increased loan maximum, simplification of pre-study income contribution, and the removal of in-study income;
- New debt rehabilitation program which aims to bring students who’ve defaulted on their loans back into good financial standing.
- Successfully lobbied the Province to extend an additional year of 30-Off Ontario Tuition Grant eligibility for students in co-op programs;
- Extensively consulted with the Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer regarding their new province-wide, interactive online course guide;
- Instrumental in the $42 million investment to create Ontario Online.
- $12 million for two additional years of funding for the Mental Health Innovation Fund;
- Legislation to extend protections of the Occupational Health and Safety Act to all co-op students (Bill 18, Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014);
- Successfully lobbied to extend the role of the Ontario Ombudsman to include publicly funded universities.
- Successfully lobbied the government to create stricter guidelines for the creation of new university campuses and the expansion of existing ones;
- Worked to secure per-term billing and the elimination of tuition deferral fees for students, as well as a moratorium on additional universities moving towards flat-fee tuition billing;
- Students participating in unpaid co-op placements were extended protections under the Occupational Health and Safety Act at OUSA’s request;
- Lobbied the Province to address high youth unemployment in Ontario, resulting in the $295 million Youth Jobs Strategy;
- Successfully lobbied the government to abandon a tuition framework of annual tuition fee increases of 5%;
- Received funding from the Province to create the Centre for Innovation on Campus Mental Health.
- Worked to introduce the 30-Off Ontario Tuition Grant program in January 2012 that reduced the up-front tuition costs for over 300,000 students;
- Secured $21 million over 3 years for campus mental health initiatives via the Mental Health Innovation Fund;
- University of Windsor students were refunded after being unfairly charged for testing related ancillary fees.
- Advocated for $74 million over five years in 2011 to develop a new credit transfer system that makes it easier for students to transfer between institutions;
- Secured funding for 60,000 new university and college space;
- Renewed funding for early outreach and access initiatives in Ontario communities and post-secondary institution;
- Lobbied for $600 million for improved university infrastructure.
- Lobbied for $81 million in student financial assistance improvements in 2010, including:
- six-month interest-free grace period before loan repayment begins;
- doubling of exemption for income earned during school;
- 7% increase in OSAP loan maximum;
- implementation of Repayment Assistance Plan to cap and manage student debt;
- tying the OSAP maximum assessment for textbook and supply costs to the rate of inflation.
- Lobbied $150 million for investments in university infrastructure;
- Advocated for $3.5 million to support students studying abroad;
- Created the $500 Ontario Distance Grant and $150 Textbook & Technology Grant in 2008;
- Lobbied for a two-year tuition freeze and associated funding for 2004-05 and 2005-06;
- Advocated for improvements to financial assistance in the government’s Reaching Higher announcement in 2005, including new low-income tuition grants and higher assistance maximums.
- Lobbied for $20.9 million in changes to student financial assistance in 2004, including:
- reducing the expected parental contribution;
- updating the definition of “independent” student from five to four years;
- increasing debt forgiveness for loans near default;
- extending OSAP to accepted refugees;
- Advocated for student representation on the review of higher education in Ontario (Leslie Church, former Executive Director of OUSA, sat on Advisory Panel) and fifteen of the 28 recommendations from the final report of the Post-Secondary Review reflected OUSA’s priorities as outlined in our submission;
- Lobbied for a tuition cap in 2000 (at two per cent per year for inflation);
- Created the framework for government regulations that restrict ancillary fee increases and rest decision making in the hands of students, and continually monitor university compliance;
- Persuaded the government to increase the allowable earnings threshold for students;
- Ensured student involvement in the development of the Quality Assurance Fund;
- Advocated to create the Ontario Advisory Committee on Student Financial Aid (OACSFA);
- Worked with the Alma Mater Society at Queen’s University to defeat tuition deregulation at the institution.