London, ON – On Wednesday, the Honorable Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board of Ontario, presented Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy. The 2021 Budget is focused on Ontario’s economic recovery from COVID-19 and the health and safety of all in the community. This budget saw a lack of investments in student financial aid, work-integrated learning, and gender-based violence prevention on campus.
The 2021 Ontario Budget did not see any investment into the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), or targeted student financial support. Though Ontario saw a 10 percent reduction in students’ tuition fees and froze tuition fees for the 2020–21 school year, many students are still struggling to pay for necessities, including rent, food, tuition, and school supplies. The USC and its partners at the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance are committed to advocating for the increased affordability, accessibility and quality of post-secondary education.
“We are disappointed to see the lack of investment in Ontario’s students,” said Mackenzy Metcalfe, Vice-President of External Affairs for the University Students’ Council at Western University. “Targeted student financial aid is a key component to ensuring all students play a role in Ontario’s COVID-19 recovery.”
In February 2021, the University Students’ Council submitted a budget submission to the Minister of Finance. This budget submission asked for increased student financial aid, a two-year interest-free grace period on all student loans for new graduates, and reinvestment in the Women’s Campus Safety Grant.
“Though there have been investments in micro-credentials & employment training supports, most students and recent graduates have been left out of these investments,” said Matt Reesor, President of the University Students’ Council at Western University. “Targeted supports are needed in order to support Ontario’s post-COVID rebuild.”
Though there were no investments in student financial aid, there was a substantial investment in students’ online learning.
To Support eCampus Ontario’s Virtual Learning Strategy, Ontario will be providing an additional $21.4 million over two years, beginning in 2021–22. This program is intended to drive growth and advancement in virtual learning across the province’s post-secondary institutions and will benefit students.
The University Students’ Council represents the interests of 35,000 professional and undergraduate students at Western University in London, Ontario.