Ontario students welcome new youth employment funding in Budget, hoped for stronger focus on post-secondary education
TORONTO - Ontario students are pleased by the 2013 Ontario Budget's commitment of $295 million over two years towards addressing youth employment and are encouraged by the Budget's continued commitment to increasing access to post-secondary education through expanded enrolment. However, students believe that the Budget should have had a stronger focus on improving post-secondary education, recognizing the value of post-secondary education to Ontario's economy.
In OUSA's 2013 Budget submission Unlocking Student Potential: The Key to Ontario's Success, students recommended that the government invest in a student employment strategy to address students' need for high quality employment in four areas. "Students recommended that a strategy address the need for improved opportunities for summer employment, in-study employment, experiential learning opportunities, and better job prospects upon graduation," said Alysha Li, President of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA). "We appreciate the government's commitment to working with youth to design the Youth Jobs Strategy, and hope that it will address students' employment needs in these areas."
OUSA's Budget submission also recommended that the government mandate significant improvements in credit transfer, to reduce costs incurred through learning duplication for both the government and students. "While the Budget remains silent on the issue of credit transfer, we will continue to work with the government to ensure that Ontario speed progress on improving student mobility," continued Li.
Although students appreciate the commitment to youth employment and enrolment growth, the 2013 Ontario Budget still fails to address the fact that Ontario universities operate with the lowest per-student funding in the country. "Students hope that in future years the Budget will demonstrate a more focused commitment to improving the affordability, accessibility, accountability and quality of Ontario's post-secondary system. For Ontario to maximize the value of our higher education system to our economic growth, we must ensure post-secondary becomes a higher priority for the province," said Rylan Kinnon, Executive Director of OUSA.