There’s much to unpack from Ontario’s 2018 Budget. To make things easier for you, we’ve highlighted announcements that will affect college students the most. Take a look:
A week before Budget, the government announced a $2.1 billon mental health investment, with $11.7 million over four years specifically dedicated to post-secondary institutions.
This funding will support college and university students by funding more mental health promotion workers on campus. Essentially, these workers will be funded by the Ministry of Health to work as campus linked “system navigators.” The Ministry heard consistently from students, including in the work College Student Alliance (CSA) did in In It Together, the gaps that exist between campus supports and community supports have serious impacts on students, and standards of care can range hugely without being strictly correlated to that student’s level of acuity or specific needs. Creating pathways to a broader health and wellness system from campuses is embedded from day one. The Ministry estimates there will be about 35 of these navigators, who will work within public health units or Local Health Integration Networks, to be the community/health experts for a regions’ post-secondary education (PSE) population.
The government also committed to creating at least 15 new youth hubs over four years to improve access to services, fill critical service gaps for youth aged 12 to 25 and smooth the transition from the child and youth system to the adult one ($16.5 million over four years). CSA suggested the Ministry put in place a protocol where a hub located near a campus could also accept students, regardless of age.
As for other mental health investments that may affect college students, the government has put forward the following commitments, all of which were recommended in some way in our In It Together paper:
Provide support designed to meet the specific needs of priority groups including LGBTQ2S, racialized and Indigenous children and youth ($116.6 million over four years)
Increase funding for community-based mental health care services for Indigenous children and youth, including support for more programs and services that are culturally appropriate ($79 million over four years for new programs and services; $8 million over four years for increased base funding)
Hire additional mental health workers in secondary schools ($181.5 million over four years)
Funding so all publicly funded school boards can expand an evidence-based approach to recognizing mental health and addictions issues ($18 million over four years)
24/7 same-day screening and referral to services for mental health and addictions issues through a new helpline using the method of their choice: phone, email, text or chat. This service will also provide 24/7 and crisis counselling ($122.9 million over four years)
Funding to Local Health Integration Networks across Ontario so they can expand existing services or create new services for priority groups such as racialized, immigrant and LGBTQ2S communities ($24.5 million over four years)
SKILLS AND TRAINING
The majority of new investments in the college sector were made in improving access to career-oriented learning opportunities and improving on-campus facilities. Colleges will have more funding to working with local employers to increase the quality and quantity of opportunities students will have in pursuing work-integrated learning. On a local and provincial level, schools will now be more responsive in creating curriculum that has real world benefits for students. In finalizing these partnerships, the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD) will have colleges consult with students to ensure opportunities developed mirror options in the current job market.
The only improvement made to OSAP is the reduction in expected contributions from parents and spouses. Though this change comes into affect in Fall 2018, it was announced in the 2016 Budget as part of OSAP reform. Since major OSAP reforms came during 2017 and 2018, including free net tuition and upfront billing, the government will likely no longer make major OSAP changes moving forward.
MAESD began consultations with the broader sector on an international student strategy in 2016, a conversation CSA was part of. The government has committed to supporting international students enhancing experiences and expanding the International Student Connect Pilot Program to support social service and settlements needs, two things student associations are already heavily involved in. The Ministry has also committed to reviewing fee transparency, making sure that international students will be well aware of what they need to pay throughout their stay when studying in Ontario. As this strategy has just been launched, CSA will continue to advocate for international students to have the best experience at Ontario colleges.
ADDITIONAL 2018 BUDGET ITEMS
INVESTING IN INDUSTRY PARTNERSHIPS AND INNOVATION AT POST-SECONDARY INSTITUTIONS
Over the next three years, the Province will provide $132 million to support innovative programming that responds to the needs of students and employers in our changing economy and labour market. This investment will:
Strengthen partnerships with local employers to provide more students with hands‐on experiential learning opportunities
Provide more dual curriculum opportunities that partner with employers to create flexible post-secondary programming with intensive experiential learning components, including paid employment for students
Increase the number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates by 25 per cent, to ensure that the province’s diverse, educated and innovative workforce continues to help globally recognized technology companies grow
SUPPORTING MORE RESPONSIVE AND FLEXIBLE SKILLS TRAINING
The government will invest $30 million to enhance the capacity of colleges, universities and other training providers to work closely with employers in key sectors across the province. These programs will train workers and job seekers with in‐demand skills and credentials required to secure a job, adapt to changing technology, or advance to a better job and help their company grow. Programs may include short term training, technical skills upgrading, on‐the‐job training and other methods that provide employers and their workforce with skills to compete and advance.
BOOSTING HANDS-ON LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
In 2017, the government made a significant investment in experiential learning opportunities when it launched the Career Ready Fund to help create over 70,000 new experiential learning opportunities for post-secondary students between 2017–19. Ontario is investing an additional $12 million to extend the Career Ready Fund to 2020–21, supporting 28,000 more experiential learning opportunities for students and employers.
MODERNIZING ONTARIO'S APPRENTICESHIP SYSTEM
The government is investing $170 million over three years in the new Ontario Apprenticeship Strategy. This investment will include:
Expanding the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), providing more high school students with trades‐related hands‐on learning opportunities
Improved guidance counselling resources and local labour market information for students, parents and educators
A new grant to promote pooled-group sponsorship models for apprentices
A Local Apprenticeship Innovation Fund to increase opportunities for apprentices and encourage engagement within the apprenticeship system across Ontario, as well as support regional, local or sector‐specific pilots where there is demonstrated market need
Continuing education opportunities for trade professionals
OFFICE OF APPRENTICESHIP OPPORTUNITY
Ontario is launching a new Office of Apprenticeship Opportunity to support apprentices from underrepresented groups and to build an inclusive, diverse apprenticeship system. The Office will be informed by best practices from other jurisdictions.The Office’s actions will support changes in workplace culture that will create a welcoming, supportive environment for all apprentices by partnering with employers and unions to improve entry pathways into the apprenticeship system, support retention, and increase completion rates for apprentices from underrepresented groups.
ESTABLISHING THE ONTARIO TRAINING BANK
An additional $63 million over three years has been invested to create the first Ontario Training Bank to serve as a one‐stop shop for employers, job seekers and workers to access the skills training that meets their needs. The new Ontario Training Bank includes a refreshed set of services and programs that will:
Help employers invest in the skills of their workers, and come together to train and recruit new talent
Provide workers with the ability to grow in their jobs and adapt to technological changes;
Provide employers with access to essential skills upgrading, including digital literacy for their workers at no cost to the employer
Provide job seekers with support to access quality training to secure in‐demand jobs and meet employers’ hiring needs
Bring employers, industry associations and training providers together to develop skills programs that are tailored to the needs of the local economy
MAKING PSE MORE AFFORDABLE THROUGH CHANGES TO PARENTAL AND SPOUSAL CONTRIBUTIONS
Students applying for OSAP starting in fall 2018 may be eligible for more grants and/or loans. The government is reducing the amount parents are expected to contribute towards their child’s education. This means that students from middle‐income families will find it easier to qualify for OSAP and will receive more financial assistance (both loans and grants) because of these changes. Ontario is also reducing expected spousal contributions, making it easier for married students to receive OSAP.
INVESTING IN POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION INFRASTRUCTURE
Ensuring that post-secondary institutions across the province are equipped with the right space and technology is important to delivering quality higher education. To support this, Ontario will provide more than $3 billion in capital grants to post-secondary institutions over the next 10 years.
ENHANCING THE COMMITMENT TO MODERNIZE POST-SECONDARY INSTITUTIONS
In addition, over the next three years, Ontario will more than double the funding under the College Equipment and Renewal Fund — with an increase from $8 million to $20 million per year.
This investment will provide colleges with support to invest in cutting‐edge equipment and technology to ensure students’ skills are aligned with the tools industry is using today. The Province will provide a new investment of over $500 million starting in 2020–21 to help renew and modernize Ontario’s university and college campuses. Investments will support institutions to update classrooms and labs, and undertake facility retrofits and other renewal projects to enhance students’ learning experience.
To meet this commitment, Ontario collaborate with universities and colleges to identify opportunities for specific investments in facility renewal that enhance the student experience.
CREATING AN INTERNATIONAL POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION STRATEGY
International education and international students have become an important part of Ontario’s college and university sector, representing Ontario’s role as a leader in international education and diversity. It is estimated that international students contribute over $5 billion to Ontario’s economy every year.
In consultation with students, colleges, universities and community representatives, the government has developed an International Post‐Secondary Education (PSE) Strategy. The strategy will promote international education in Ontario and support international students through initiatives such as:
An Internationalization Fund to help colleges and universities develop programming that will enhance students’ international competencies and knowledge, through international curricula, collaborative online international learning, and other initiatives
Study‐abroad scholarships for domestic students
An International Student Support Services Fund to enhance experiences for international students on campuses
An expansion of the International Student Connect Pilot Program to support students with social service and settlements needs
Promotion of French‐language education in partnership with Advantage Ontario through recruitment and partnership initiatives that promote French‐language institutions in Ontario as study destinations.
To read the 2018 Budget in full, click here.