On January 17th, The Ford government released a statement regarding drastic changes to post-secondary education in Ontario. These changes include; scrapping free tuition for low-income students, a sharp reduction in the family income threshold needed to be eligible for the Ontario Student Grant, ending the sixth-month interest-free grace period for repaying OSAP, and the introduction of a “Student Choice Initiative” that will gut the funding to essential campus groups like student unions and newspapers. The Ford government claims to be “putting more money in the pockets of students” when in reality these changes amount to nothing more than an attack on low-income students, student unionism and a free and functioning campus press.

The CWA Canada Student/Associate Members take issue with all of these changes, however, the decision to allow students to opt-out of “non-mandatory” student fees is a direct attack on our members and on student journalism around the province. According to the government press release, student fees will only be mandatory if they are for “essential campus services” including: health and counselling, athletics and recreation and academic support. All other fees will be made mandatory at the discretion of each individual institution’s administration. Simply put, it will be up to the institutions to decide if the campus press & student unions, the campus organizations that hold them to account, are essential.

When you consider this, the point of Ford’s “Student Choice Initiative” becomes evidently clear: the government is seeking to undermine the very organizations that have opposed its policies on campus. Both the Canadian University Press (CUP), a national co-operative owned and operated by student newspapers across the country, and the Canadian Federations of Students Ontario play a vital role in holding school administrations and the provincial government to account. In the era of fake news and with the decline of local news reporting, these organizations are as “essential” as ever.

CWA Canada Associate Members will do everything in our power to reverse these announced changes to post-secondary education in Ontario. We encourage everyone to send a strong message demanding a full reversal of these changes by emailing Doug Ford at doug.ford@pc.ola.org and by emailing Merrilee Fullerton, the minister of training, colleges and universities at merrilee.fullerton@pc.ola.org

You can help us send this message by accessing the CWA Canada Associate Members letter-writing campaign here:

In Solidarity,

The CWA Canada Associate Membership Program Steering Committee

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