Ontario College Students Respond to the 2013 Ontario Budget
TORONTO - The Ministry of Finance released the 2013 Budget for the Government of Ontario. The release of the 2013 Ontario Budget provided few surprises to Ontario's college students. The 2013 Ontario Budget includes a commitment to introducing a fairer approach to tuition deferral fees, a review of the recently announced post-secondary tuition framework, and funding for a Youth Jobs Strategy to address youth unemployment.
"In order to address the challenges facing our province's labour market and economy, we must strengthen the Ontario college system," says Ciara Byrne, President of the College Student Alliance (CSA). "Ontario's college students recognize the challenges of balancing fiscal restraint with the need to maintain quality and improve access to a post-secondary education in Ontario. We at the CSA will continue to work with the government of Ontario in the pursuit of sustaining a high quality, affordable and accessible college system."
A reaffirmation of the government's previously announced intent, addressing the issue of deferral fees for students who receive OSAP funding, is a notable addition to the post-secondary tuition-fee framework portion of the budget. This would ensure students are not asked to pay for their tuition before their OSAP funding arrives. Also of interest to Ontario's college students is the announcement of the Youth Jobs Strategy. This commitment of $295 million over two years will support a series of projects promoting youth employment opportunities, entrepreneurship and innovation for youth. The government has committed to work directly with youth in the design of the aforementioned strategy.
In the College Student Alliance's 2013 pre-budget submission to the Ministry of Finance, "Focus on Student Success," college students asked for an expansion of the 30% Off Ontario Tuition Program, an increase in per-student funding to meet the national average, and an increase of support for student employment; inclusive of adult learners. The 2013 Budget did not address the bulk of these proposals directly, with only the Youth Jobs Strategy recognizing the issue of student unemployment; this strategy is targeted to those that qualify as "youth," which may disadvantage mature students.
"Ontario's economic stability relies on colleges to provide training for a highly skilled workforce", says Tyler Epp, Director of Advocacy for the CSA. "Our colleges require an increase in per-student funding and a commitment to expand post-secondary opportunities for Ontario students in order to meet this responsibility; these commitments were not seen in this year's budget."