Presidential Update - March 2021
May 26, 2021
OUSA Calls on the Province to Stop Clawing Back OSAP
TORONTO - On May 5, 2021, The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) sent a letter to the Honourable Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities, asking the province to stop the $400 million clawback from the provincial portion of the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) and to re-invest the $400 milion back into OSAP. As of Wednesday, May 26, OUSA has not received a response from Minister Romano or the Ministry of Colleges and Universities.
“Students across the province rely on the OSAP to help fund their post-secondary education and increase affordability,” said Eunice Oladejo, OUSA President and incoming Vice-President External Affairs at the University Students’ Council at Western University. “Due to the global pandemic, students are facing income disruptions and high unemployment rates, further exacerbating issues of affordability.”
In the spirit of helping students during the pandemic, the federal government doubled its contributions to OSAP through the Canada Student Grant (CSG) in 2020 and has committed to maintaining this investment amount for the next two years. Despite the significant increase in funding for student financial aid, students in Ontario have not felt the effects of this contribution. This is because the province is using the increased federal funding to subsidize its own contributions to OSAP by clawing back the provincial portion of OSAP. In the recently announced fiscal plan and outlook (page 154), the provincial government reduced its OSAP expenditure from $1.29 billion in 2019-20 to $895 million in 2020-21, amounting to a $400 million reduction.
Rather than providing Ontario students with the financial support they require and have been asking for throughout the pandemic, the provincial government is using the federal government’s additional investments as a cost-saving mechanism. Therefore, not only is the provincial government not listening to students, they are also interfering with federal interventions to meet students’ needs.
OUSA has asked the Ministry of Colleges and Universities to:
- Stop OSAP clawbacks as a result of increased federal funding through Canada Student Grants; and
- 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.
May 25, 2021
OUSA releases “Habitats: Students in their Municipalities 2021”
TORONTO, ON - Today the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) released its annual publication, Habitats: Students in their Municipalities. Each year, students from OUSA’s member institutions highlight the successes and challenges they face in their municipalities through a series of case studies on municipal-level topics and issues affecting undergraduate students across the province.
“Post-secondary students bring immense value to their communities, yet they are often overlooked when it comes to municipal issues,” said Eunice Oladejo, Vice President External Affairs at the Western University Students' Council and OUSA President. “The concerns outlined in this publication highlight the need for increased collaboration between municipalities and universities to ensure municipalities can meet the needs of students and improve the lives of all residents.”
May 3rd, 2021
TORONTO - On Friday, April 30th, the Ontario government announced a one-year extension of the 2020-2021 tuition freeze. While this decision is meant to increase affordability for students, it does not do enough to address the exacerbated financial concerns faced by students this year. OUSA asks that the provincial government complement the tuition freeze by investing in increased operating grants to institutions and OSAP funding for students who need it most.
“This past year has been especially difficult for students who are facing greater and more complex financial challenges as a result of COVID-19 and the high cost of their education,” said Julia Pereira, OUSA President. “Students need direct financial support, and while a tuition freeze may broadly benefit all students, it doesn't provide adequate support for students with the most financial need.”
April 30, 2021
TORONTO - The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is proud to release the second policy paper approved by OUSA’s Spring 2021 General Assembly, Addressing Racism & Religious Discrimination. The paper was written, approved, and published by students with the purpose of providing recommendations to support racial and religious equity at post-secondary institutions in the province.
"Students deserve to pursue their education in an equitable, and inclusive environment where they are safe and supported," said Megan Town, OUSA Steering Committee Member and VP Education at the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association. “Addressing the concerns raised by racialized and religious students with evidence-based policy, and a comprehensive, proactive approach is crucial to ensuring the accessibility of post-secondary education in Ontario"
April 23, 2021
TORONTO - The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is proud to release the first policy paper approved by OUSA’s Spring 2021 General Assembly, Student Health & Wellness. The paper was written, approved, and published by students with the purpose of providing recommendations for improving student health and wellness.
"Health and wellness are priorities for many students, yet there are significant barriers to accessing programs and services that support their wellbeing," said Nathan Barnett, OUSA’s VP HR and VP University Affairs at Trent-Durham University. "Without adequate support from the provincial government, students will continue to face mental, physical, and sexual health challenges that will impact their ability to succeed in post-secondary education."
March 24, 2021
OUSA responds to the 2021 Ontario Budget
TORONTO - Today, the Ontario government released Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy. This budget is focused on the province’s economic recovery and includes investments to help keep Ontario safe and healthy. Post-secondary education is critical to the future of Ontario and to support our economic recovery, yet there is a noticeable lack of targeted investments to adequately support post-secondary students. In order to address the challenges students are currently facing, OUSA will continue to ask for increased financial assistance, work-integrated learning opportunities, and ongoing mental health supports.
TORONTO - Today, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities announced proposed amendments to Ontario Regulation 131/16 to make post-secondary sexual violence policies more trauma-informed, survivor-centric, and evidence-based.
"We are pleased to see the government take positive steps toward protecting and supporting students who have experienced gender-based violence," said Alexia Henriques, OUSA Steering Committee Member and Vice-President University Affairs at the Alma Mater Society at Queen’s University. "Students in Ontario have consistently expressed the need to better address the gender-based violence crisis on post-secondary campuses, and these proposed changes are one of many steps necessary to make our campuses safer."
December 4, 2020
OUSA releases policy paper titled “Housing, Transit, & Community Development”
TORONTO - The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is proud to release the third policy paper passed by OUSA’s Fall 2020 General Assembly, Housing, Transit, & Community Development. The paper was written, approved, and published by students to provide recommendations in response to the concerns that students face in their communities.
"Students are often overlooked or underappreciated when it comes to municipal issues,” said Julia Pereira, Vice President University Affairs for the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union and OUSA President. "And while students face unique challenges, they also share experiences with their neighbours and offer a unique perspective that is important for developing solutions for stronger communities for everyone."
November 27, 2020
OUSA releases policy paper titled “A Comprehensive Access Strategy”
TORONTO - The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is proud to release A Comprehensive Access Strategy, the second of four policy papers approved at our virtual Fall General Assembly earlier this month. Written and ratified by students, this paper provides recommendations aimed at promoting equitable access to post-secondary education in Ontario.
November 20, 2020
TORONTO - The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is proud to release its interim policy paper, Responding to COVID-19. The paper was written, approved, and published by students to provide recommendations in response to the concerns that students are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.