On Janurary 17, Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government, under Premier Doug Ford, announced overhauls to various pieces of postsecondary policy. These included a 10 per cent cut to tuition with no backfill funding for universities; the elimination of the Ontario Student Assistance Plan, which gave grants to low-income students to help them attend university for free; and the implementation of the Student Choice Initiative, which would allow students to have the choice of opting out of all student fees deemed “non-essential” by individual postsecondary institutions.
What drove these decisions? What effect will they have on universities in Ontario? How will postsecondary students be affected?
On this edition of the Opinion segment of The Gateway Presents, I sat down with Jonah Dunch, Arts and Culture Editor of The Gateway and board member of the Canadian University Press, and Kyle Monda, fifth-year design student. Together, we broke down the Ford Administration’s new policies and discussed some of the more serious implications they may have going forward. Over the course of our conversation, we touched on the ramifications the Student Choice Initiative may have on student media, services provided by students’ unions, and the overall functioning of universities in general.
We also discuss the possibility of this happening at our very own University of Alberta. After all, with the provincial election just around the corner, and a United Conservative Party policy point that is very similar to the Student Choice Initiative, we may just see student union fees become optional in the near future.
Only time will tell what will happen in Ontario, but to our metrics, things are looking grim.