OUSA Responds to the 2024 Ontario Budget


March 27, 2024

OUSA Responds to the 2024 Ontario Budget

TORONTO - Yesterday, the Ontario government released Build a Better Ontario, the 2024 Ontario Budget. This budget focuses on securing Ontario’s financial stability as the province navigates rising inflation rates and the subsequent affordability crisis. It includes the recently announced $1.3 billion investment in Ontario’s post-secondary sector and a continued tuition freeze for domestic students. While students of Ontario are happy to see the maintenance of the tuition freeze and the additional investments in gender-based and sexual violence support, the provincial funding announced in this budget still falls short of what is needed to remedy the sector’s financial peril. To address the challenges students are currently facing and ensure the longevity of post-secondary education in Ontario, OUSA continues to urge the provincial government to further invest in student financial aid, student housing, campus mental health, and increased long-term funding solutions in the form of operating grants.  


“While we welcome the continued tuition freeze and investment in the post-secondary sector, greater long-term investment strategies are needed to restore the financial sustainability of post-secondary education in Ontario,” said Vivian Chiem, OUSA President. “Students deserve accessible, affordable, and sustainable options for post-secondary education, and it is the Ontario government’s job to ensure that it is available to students now and in the future.”


OUSA is discouraged to see the lack of funding needed to maintain the financial health of the sector. The Blue Ribbon Panel estimated that $2.5 billion in funding over three years to colleges and universities was needed to keep the sector viable; however, the current investment of $1.3 billion falls significantly short of this. This budget allocation does not do enough to address the long-term needs of institutions, nor does it resolve the chronic underfunding of the sector. For many years, operating grants to universities have remained unchanged, with provincial grants only accounting for 31% of institutional operating budgets, and Ontario having the lowest expenditure on post-secondary education nationally. This places a heavy burden on international student tuition to supplement this gap in revenue, with international students paying six times more than their domestic counterparts. Ultimately, higher investments are needed to ensure sustainability for Ontario’s post-secondary sector and to keep the quality and availability of critical student services. Moreover, while the budget mentions student housing under the Building Ontario Fund, we hope to see more targeted funding for the same to ensure affordable housing for all students.


The affordability of post-secondary education continues to be a major barrier for students to accessing university, and yet, for the third year in a row, we are concerned to see no mention of OSAP funding in the 2024 budget, in a time when students need direct financial support. While spending under student financial aid has steadily increased over time, the program suffered a $400 million clawback in 2020 and four years later, this budget finally returns to 2019 spending levels. However, among increased enrollments and inflationary pressures, more investment in OSAP and structural changes are needed to prioritize grants over loans and reduce debt levels. 


OUSA is pleased to see the three-year $27 million investment in Sexual Assault and Domestic violence centres and the $6.4 million investment in the Independent Legal Advice for Survivors of Sexual Assault program. Within the first six weeks of the school year, 64% of students will experience sexual violence and as advocated for by OUSA, trauma-informed and survivor-centric supports are essential for survivor well-being. However, OUSA urges the province to consider long-term and continuous investment strategies for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Centres, and legal aid to ensure that these resources are sustainably supported, rather than relying on three-year investment strategies. 


OUSA will continue to advocate for increased government support towards student financial aid, student mental health, sexual and gender-based violence, and general sector sustainability, recognizing that these are the top priorities for our students. To learn more about why these are students’ top priorities and what the provincial government can do to better support students, read our full budget submission here.


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About: OUSA represents the interests of 160,000 professional and undergraduate, full-time and part-time university students at nine student associations across Ontario. Our vision is for an accessible, affordable, accountable, and high quality post-secondary education in Ontario.



Tiffany Li Wu

Operations and Communications Coordinator

Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance

416-341-9948 | [email protected]