TORONTO - On May 5th, 2021, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) sent a letter to the former Minister of Colleges and Universities, asking the province to stop the $400 million clawbacks from the provincial portion of the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) and to re-invest the $400 million back into OSAP. Having received no response, OUSA sent a second letter on September 10th to the Honourable Jill Dunlop, the current Minister of Colleges and Universities.
“We’ve now entered yet another school year where students are struggling to afford their post-secondary education due to pandemic-related reductions in income and employment, ” said Austin Hurley, OUSA Steering Committee Member and Vice-President of External Affairs at Brock University Students’ Union. “OSAP provides crucial monetary support for students and now more than ever, students are relying on investments in this program in order to pursue their studies without increased financial burdens.”
In the spirit of helping students during the pandemic, the federal government doubled its contributions to OSAP through the Canada Student Grant (CSG) for the 2020-2021 academic year and has committed to maintaining this investment 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 latest fiscal plan and outlook (announced March 2021), 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. If nothing changes while the CSG is doubled, this could reach a provincial reduction of up to $1.2 billion.
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.
If no action is taken, OUSA is concerned that students will not feel the impact of the doubling of the CSG – investments intended to address student needs – and that students will continue to struggle. If no action is taken, the province will continue to absorb the federal government’s investments and reduce their OSAP spending, leaving students without the necessary financial support that they have been asking for.
Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) found that 2/3 of students reported that the pandemic had made affording post-secondary education more difficult, among other concerns raised by post-secondary students due to COVID-19
When the provincial government reduced domestic tuition by 10% in 2019, they also cut OSAP spending by $700M
~24,000 fewer students received OSAP awards in 2019-2020 than in 2018-2019 as a result of the cuts to OSAP announced in 2019
2018-2019: 256,311 recipients vs 2019-2020: 232,058 recipients
Another $400M reduction in OSAP expenditure from 2019-2020 to 2020-2021 can be attributed to the OSAP clawback
About: 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.
Communications and Operations Coordinator
Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance
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