March 19th, 2018
Toronto, ON - Students, represented by the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), react positively to the Speech from the Throne delivered by Her Honour the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell today. Students were pleased to hear about the continued commitment by government to expand financial assistance opportunities under the new Ontario Student Assistance Program, as well as the expansion of access to mental health care for youth in schools and our communities.
“Students are happy to hear of continued investments into the affordability of post-secondary education. By committing to expand the new OSAP, the government will be continuing to work towards a post-secondary sector that is affordable and accessible to any student who wishes to pursue higher education. We are looking forward to hearing specific details in the coming weeks,” said Andrew Clubine, student at the University of Waterloo and President of OUSA.
While students are supportive of the commitments made in the Throne Speech, the upcoming provincial budget must address the ongoing issues facing Ontario’s post-secondary sector. A concern shared across all campuses is the state of post-secondary student mental health. An important initiative to OUSA is that the government adopt all recommendations included in the In It Together action plan published with the Council of Ontario Universities, Colleges Ontario, and the College Student Alliance. Along with adopting the recommendations, mental health funding must increase to 10% of the provincial health care budget to adequately provide services to students in a ‘whole of community’ approach. Furthermore, students call on the government to continue to invest in Ontario’s Open Textbook Library. In January, OUSA ran our #TextbookBroke campaign, where students from across the province highlighted the high costs of their educational materials. Further investments into the Open Textbook Library would not only increase the affordability of a post-secondary education in Ontario, but would also continue to uphold the high standard of quality we expect of a post-secondary education.
“I am excited to hear the emphasis of students on the Government’s agenda. With the right investments into our postsecondary institutions, our communities, and the economy, students will be supported in their health, in their studies, and in their journey towards the workforce," said Landon Tulk, student at Western University and Vice President of OUSA.
OUSA is still excited about the historic investment in financial assistance through the new OSAP program. In the coming months, students also hope to see educational affordability and quality increase through funding for institutions through an increase to their base operating grants. Experiential learning, another priority established by this government, should also receive sustained and increased funding so that every post-secondary student can experience an experiential learning opportunity.
OUSA represents the interests of 150,000 professional and undergraduate, full-time and part-time university students at eight student associations a cross Ontario. Our vision is for an accessible, affordable, accountable, and high quality post-secondary education in Ontario. To achieve this vision we’ve come together to develop solutions to challenges facing higher education, build broad consensus for our policy options, and lobby government to implement them.