The Ontario NDP and their leader, Andrea Horwath, released their platform in the run up to the 2018 provincial election. With major investments in the college sector, CSA is pleased the NDP party understands increasing funding to the college system means better outcomes for students. Below, we’ve highlighted some post-secondary education (PSE) commitments and what they mean for college students.
CSA has been at the forefront of ensuring OSAP reform work better for students. The NDP platform commits to changing the provincial portion of OSAP loans into non-repayable grants; this means the next generation of students will benefit from greater access to post-secondary and be in a better position to succeed once graduated. Additionally, for graduated students who are currently repaying their loans, forgiving the interest on OSAP loans means more money in their pocket. With additional commitments to increase funding for colleges and universities, CSA will continue to advocate to ensure tuition fees, for both domestic and international students, are kept under control.
While the NDP announced they are committing to a faculty renewal strategy to help contract educators earn full-time spots, we hope they will take into consideration any recommendations made by the Provincial Task Force for the college sector. Our work on the Provincial Task Force will include a focus on staffing models to improve program quality and student experience.
Though the NDP platform includes a substantial commitment to mental health in the form of a stand-alone ministry, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, there is not a specific commitment to mental health on post-secondary campuses. In CSA’s joint mental health report, In It Together, we recommend for post-secondary students to be formally recognized as a distinct population cohort. In addition, proper supports need to be put on campus to ensure students have access to gender and culturally sensitive services that are timely, effective, and flexible.
We are please the NDP has committed to creating 27,000 new paid placements for students to get real-life work experience during their PSE career. Along with doubling Ontario’s Career Kick-Start program so institutions can create new work-integrated learning opportunities, we urge the NDP to include students when consulting institutions and employers.
With the NDP’s announcement to offer $12 per day child care, there will be a new demand for early childhood educators (ECEs); the NDP plan to increase the wages for ECEs to ensure people see this as a viable career. Working with Ontario colleges that have ECE programs, students will have the opportunity to immediately begin their career. Additionally, by setting targets for reducing obesity and diet-related illness, the NDP will work with local providers, including colleges, to increase healthy local options. CSA is excited that a specific focus is being put on college students and technical institutions.
We look forward to continuing to working with Ontario’s NDP in improving the college sector. Below, you’ll find parts of the NDP plan taken directly from the platform that impact the college and post-secondary sector.
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The following content was directly sourced from the platform:
Better post-secondary education
From now on, every student who qualifies for OSAP will get a non-repayable grant instead of a loan
We will wipe out any student loan interest owed or paid to the province by any student or past student who still holds a provincial loan
A new faculty renewal strategy will convert contractors to full-time professors
We will open the Franco–Ontarian university
We will foster 27,000 new work-integrated-learning opportunities like co-ops or paid internships for students
Provincial loans for all new postsecondary students will become grants. Every student whose family is eligible for the Ontario Student Assistance Plan will graduate free of any debt to the province. We will retroactively forgive all interest for everyone carrying provincial student loan debts.
And graduates who have been harassed and threatened by private debt collectors for student loans can breathe easier. The province will no longer hire private debt collection services.
We’ll end the financial choke-hold on colleges and universities by lifting the budget freeze. And we’ll make sure funding keeps up, so post-secondary institutions can offer the choices and quality of instruction Ontario students deserve.
We’ll launch a faculty renewal strategy to allow contract educators to become full-time professors and instructors, and invest in more tenure-track faculty positions. That will help ensure students can learn from professors and educators who are there for the long term — who they can seek out to take more classes, or reach for letters of recommendation. And it will help Ontario attract the best academic talent the world has to offer.
Finally, we will welcome the first students to the Franco–Ontarian university. New Democrats have led the fight to establish a province-wide university where students can earn a degree studying in French. The francophone community has waited long enough.
Andrea Horwath and the NDP will create 27,000 new placements for young people to get real-life work experience while in their post-secondary education: paid co-op and internship opportunities that allow students to graduate with real-world experience.
We will build on the federal Student Work Integrated Learning Program, expanding it beyond science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to include other fields.
Through the Jobs and Prosperity Fund, we will double Ontario’s Career Kick-Start program so Ontario’s colleges and universities can create new work-integrated learning opportunities.
Fresh, local food and safe, clean water
Setting targets for reducing obesity and diet-related illness, and working with local providers to municipalities, universities, colleges, schools and hospitals to increase healthy local options.
Andrea Horwath and the NDP will work with businesses and post-secondary institutions to increase opportunities for lifelong training to ensure that people and businesses can keep pace with industrial and technological changes.
We will create a fund within the Jobs and Prosperity Fund to create opportunities for mid-career education, offering training for people who are working and those who are between employment.
And we will review and reform Employment Ontario programs so that they work for the modern economy.
The NDP will phase in an affordable, province-wide child care plan, starting with care for infants and toddlers in the second year of our mandate, and preschoolers in the third year. We will base our plan and costs on the Ontario Coalition for Better Childcare’s recommendations. If your household income is under $40,000, you won’t have to pay for public, licensed, not-for-profit child care. And if your household earns more, your fees will be based on ability to pay — with the average cost coming to $12 per day. We will not reduce existing subsidies. Affordable child care will create significant new demand, requiring more Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) and high-quality, licensed, not-for-profit spaces.
We will immediately begin increasing the wages for ECEs to ensure people see this as a career that can support a family. We will expand the number of not-for-profit, licensed, affordable child care spaces in Ontario by 202,000 spaces — a 51% increase, adding more than 10% every year. We will work with school boards, community centres and public buildings to create new centres and spaces, with a priority on public schools. And we will work with Ontario colleges that have ECE programs to increase the number of Lab Programs where children of students receive care while their parents get hands-on learning.
A dedicated Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions
We will ensure access to mental health care for more than 28,000 more Ontarians every year by hiring 2,200 new mental health care workers
We will build 30,000 new supportive housing units
We will cut children’s mental health waits to a 30-day max with a $590 million investment
We will hire 400 more mental health care workers, in order to provide mental health supports in every high school
We will invest $100 million in Ontario’s Dementia Strategy
Most urgently, we will make the investments needed to ensure that any young person in crisis can get the care they need. We will invest $590 million over five years to expand services and increase staff. Based on recommendations by Children’s Mental Health Ontario, we believe this will ensure every child gets care within 30 days.
Fresh, local food and safe, clean water
Working with the Ministries of Agriculture and International Trade to ensure farmers, processors and agricultural industries can succeed and grow at a time of immense trade instability
Developing a food curriculum that will deliver culturally and regionally appropriate learning about growing and cooking food
Working with the Ministry of Community and Social Services to make food more affordable and available to low-income families
Ensuring Source Water Protection Plans are implemented so every Ontarian has access to reliable, safe drinking water, and we can end water advisories
Better workplaces, better lives
We will increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour, and index ongoing increases to inflation, making it more predictable for families and businesses. And we will ensure that all workers are entitled to earn no less than the minimum wage, so bar and restaurant staff, students and young people aren’t left out.
We will invest $57 million from the Jobs and Prosperity Fund to create opportunities in the trades
We will focus on bringing more women and equity-seeking groups into skilled trades
Andrea Horwath and the NDP will invest $57 million annually from the Jobs and Prosperity Fund to create opportunities in the trades. We will bring together labour unions, employers, the Ontario College of Trades, and individual tradespeople to ensure that college programs are funded; to identify and develop new opportunities for apprenticeship; and to ensure young people know the opportunities that can come from a skilled trade. We will put a particular focus on bringing more women into the skilled trades.