September 10th, 2019
TORONTO, ON - Today, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) launched a letter-writing campaign in response to the provincial government’s recent changes to OSAP. Letters with students’ stories will be addressed to Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, Ross Romano, and students’ local MPPs, and the goal of the campaign is to give students disadvantaged by these changes the opportunity to share their experiences with the provincial government. OUSA hopes to make it impossible for provincial leaders to ignore the effects that the OSAP changes are having on students.
“The OSAP changes have negatively impacted students’ ability to access a university education,” said Shawn Cruz, Vice President University Affairs with the Wilfrid Laurier University Students' Union and OUSA Steering Committee member. “Many have been forced to take a year off, take fewer courses, or even withdraw from their programs.”
When the changes were announced in January, OUSA asked students to use the #ONStudentsSpeak hashtag to share how they were affected by changes to OSAP, the tuition framework, and the non-tuition ancillary fee framework (Student Choice Initiative). OUSA received over 200 responses from students across the province, who shared personal stories about how these changes would affect them. Faced with cuts to their OSAP funding, many students had similar concerns, including not being able to support themselves, being forced to take on additional jobs, and having less time to study. These responses are summarized in OUSA’s OSAP campaign video, “#ONStudentsSpeak on OSAP Cuts”.
“It’s only September and OUSA has already heard from many students struggling to afford their education,” said Niveditha Sethumadhavan, Vice President External Affairs with the Brock University Student Union and OUSA Steering Committee member. “We wanted to give students a chance to share their concerns directly with the provincial government.”
OUSA has also sent a public letter to the Minister calling on the provincial government to reverse the changes to OSAP. This letter highlights students’ concerns and stories and asks for the provincial government to engage in meaningful consultation with students to create an OSAP framework that allows all willing and qualified students to access post-secondary education. This letter was used as a template for our letter-writing campaign, which gives students who sign the opportunity to add their own stories.
OUSA asks that all students affected by or concerned about the changes sign the letter and, if they are comfortable doing so, add their personal story to voice their concerns directly to Premier Ford, Minister Romano, and their local MPP. This is an opportunity for students to make their voice heard. For students interested in adding their voice, the draft letter is available here.
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OUSA represents the interests of 150,000 professional and undergraduate, full-time and part-time university students at eight student associations across Ontario. Our vision is for an accessible, affordable, accountable, and high quality post-secondary education in Ontario.
Operations & Communications Coordinator
Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance