Updated: Dec 10, 2019
Per the National Student Letter coming out today, I felt it important to address the importance of making education more accessible and since I'm currently a student living in Ontario, my specific frustrations stem from the negligence of thr provincial government, but I'm more than aware that it's the federal government that needs to step up and take action, as well.
WHAT IS THE NATIONAL STUDENT LETTER?
If you may or may not know, The National Student Letter is an initiative started by the student union at UBC and eventually spread to every other University and College campus across Canada. Students from across Canada are demanding the federal political parties to actually make a commitment towards students and their families. We want them to address education and their action plans in the upcoming federal election. People may or may not know this, but this year, young Canadians between the ages of 18-38 make up 37% of the electorate. This means that young adults are the LARGEST group of eligible voters. With that being said, students and young adults have the power to change the outcome of this upcoming federal election, so now more than EVER, the federal parties need our vote and approval. And, in order to gain our vote, they need to address our issues. The National Student Letter that was sent out to every federal party and signed by University student associations across Canada totalling a little under 1,000,000 students has 3 specific asks that we want acknowledged in each federal parties' campaign promises:
• Eliminating interest on federal student loans
• Increasing federal grants by reallocating some of the tuition tax credit
2) Good, quality jobs
• By giving employers incentives, they'll have the money to hire students, train them, and prepare them for the workforce which will result in a well-prepared workforce with the experience and the knowledge to do well in the workplace.
• More than 50% of university students work while they are in school, so they should make sure that each student still has the ability and opportunity to gain skills from these experiences
• People can't constantly complain about all of Canadian jobs being outsourced to other countries when the government doesn't do enough to invest in its youth and provide them the skills and job opportunities to work and STAY in Canada.
3) Support for indigenous students and their communities
• Increased financial support for Indigenous students who want to attend post-secondary so that they'll have a better chance at being able to attend and have access to post-secondary institutions and its resources.
• Following through with the TRC, UNDRIP, MMIWG reports
The government is supposed to be on our side. They're supposed to be "for the people". They're supposed to make plans and take action for the benefit of their citizens and yet here we are, suffocating under the overwhelming pressure, insurmountable student debt, and trying to find a way to survive once we graduate. Some people won't even have the luxury to think about stressing about life after graduation because they won't even have the opportunity to enroll in the first place due to these new barriers. The only reason why I was able to attend the University of Windsor is because of the OSAP grants and loans I've received. I'm a recipient of over 5 scholarships and none of that would have been enough to get through these past 3 years had it not been for the support of OSAP which cancels out the narrative that "students wouldn't need to rely on the government if they just applied for scholarships."
With all of that being said, the fact that now our PROVINCIAL government is cutting back on grants, but is willing to carelessly spend money on making beer cheaper and more accessible is embarrassing and irresponsible. They know that with more people being unable to afford education, the more likely we are to resort to a life of destitution and alcoholism to help cope with the pain of financial instability and discouragement from the same system meant to build us up. We don't need a beer for a buck, we need financial support from both the provincial and federal government so that our citizens, especially those who come from marginalized backgrounds, can have the resources, funding, and support to pursue their dreams, enroll in post-secondary education, find employment in a capitalistic system that won't even consider hiring those without a degree, and SURVIVE. The only thing these new changes to our education and OSAP in Ontario will do is balloon student debt and cut $400M in funding with absolutely NO plan to replace it. It's upsetting to say the least and something needs to be done in this upcoming federal election towards our education because enough is enough.