We asked the four major political parties to tell us what they plan to do for Ontario’s college students should they win the upcoming provincial election. Below are their answers, in the order they were received. Take a look to help determine who you’ll vote for on or before June 7:
led by ANDREA HORWATH For many, post-secondary education is out of reach. For every step to make it a little more affordable, years of tuition hikes have priced college outside the budgets of many Ontarians. And many can only pay for their education by taking on a huge debt burden — a debt that weighs people down as they start their adult lives. And years of cuts and budget freezes have chipped away at quality and access. Cancelled courses and deteriorating facilities are the most visible results. And more and more often, full-time instructional positions have become precarious part-time, contract and sessional jobs. Our colleges are research hubs and future-builders — we need to help people go to college in Ontario, and graduate without crushing debt. It’s time we had a government at Queen’s Park that understands that, and makes getting quality post-secondary education easier, not harder.
Andrea Horwath and the NDP will address affordability head-on with a game-changing initiative: 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 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.
Our platform at a glance:
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
We will foster 27,000 new work-integrated-learning opportunities like co-ops or paid internships for students
led by MIKE SCHREINER Our education system can realize potential, promote equity, and create opportunities for students, but it can only do so with the proper funding and supports.
The current provincial funding policy rewards colleges and universities based on the number of students they can attract, not the quality of education they deliver. This has led to underfunding and oversubscribing, making for crowded lecture halls and overstretched faculty.
This situation can be improved by addressing both the funding gap that institutions face and the pressure of rising tuition costs on students. We support properly funding higher education with public subsidies, with the eventual guarantee of full public tuition for all Ontario residents, as well as interest-free loans for students in financial need.
We also support increasing access to mental health services for students by raising the number of counsellors, psychologists, and social workers in schools. This includes increased access to gender and culturally-sensitive mental health services and supports that are timely, flexible, and provided in a safe and comfortable environment.
At the postsecondary level, we support increased funding and resources for food security programs to supplement mental health and poverty reduction efforts.
led by KATHLEEN WYNNE We believe that students should access higher education based on their ability to learn - not their ability to pay. That's why our government engaged in the most transformative overhaul of student aid in North America, making average tuition free for more than 235,000 students in Ontario this past academic year.
Free tuition is available to college students from families with middle incomes as well, including many from families earning up to $90,000. Those from families who make up to $175,000 are also eligible for generous aid.
This past year Ontario's Liberal government passed landmark legislation creating standalone institutions for both Francophone and Indigenous learners, conducted Ontario's first campus sexual violence and harassment climate survey, and made major investments to create 70,000 work-related learning opportunities for Ontario's students (among many other initiatives). If elected, we will continue on this transformative work, and continue to invest in Ontario's most important resource- our people and their talent.
led by DOUG FORD We’re still waiting to hear from the PC party – stay tuned!