We the Students

In February 2019, students launched the We The Students campaign in response to the provincial government’s cuts to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) and the introduction of the Student Choice Initiative (SCI). The campaign has since expanded to include elements of the Canadian Federation of Students’ broader advocacy strategy to promote free and accessible education for all students.

The Issues:

  1. Significant cuts were made to OSAP grants and loans.
  2. The government provided a 10 percent tuition fee reduction for domestic students but refused to provide additional funding to universities and colleges to make up for funding shortfalls. As such, international students are being charged more to make up for that shortfall.
  3. Students’ unions, groups, clubs, campus press, radio stations and other crucial student services were at risk of funding shortfalls, closures and attacks through the Student ‘Choice’ Initiative.
  4. Public funding for post-secondary education is regressively shifting from enrolment based funding to performance-based funding.

The Students call on the government to

  • In 2017, over 234,000 students received non-repayable grants to cover the full cost of college or university.
  • Recent government changes have reverted back to greater loans which will result in increased student debt.
  • The average post-secondary student in Ontario graduates with over $28,000 in debt.

Demand: Increase funding for grants instead of loans and expand eligibility for non-repayable grants to all students.

  • Tuition fees in Ontario have increased for over a decade to make up for government funding shortfalls.
  • Even with a 10 percent tuition fee cut, Ontario has some of the highest university tuition fees in the country.
  • International students contribute $8 billion to the economy per year and still pay 3-4 times more in tuition fees compared to domestic student

Demand: Reduce and eliminate tuition fees for all students.

  • Ontario has the lowest per-student funding in Canada – roughly 35 percent less than the national average.
  • Less than 50 percent of operating budgets for most institutions come from the government, making them publicly-assisted NOT publicly funded.
  • Less public funding leads to large class sizes, less access to instructors, high tuition fees and crumbling campus infrastructure.

Demand: Publicly fund our public post-secondary education systems.

  • Students’ unions exist on campuses around the world to provide students with a united voice, advocate for change and operate essential support services.
  • Students have democratically voted to fund services, events, campaigns, student media and student groups through the collection of dues.
  • Student union autonomy allows students to have control over what services, events and campaigns they value most on campus.

Demand: Protect the existence of students’ unions by passing legislation that recognizes their autonomy at post-secondary institutions.