(Featured Image: The Standard)
The premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, recently made changes to OSAP (the Ontario Student Assistance Program). If post-secondary education was not hard enough financially for many students and families, the recent changes have discarded free tuition grants, replacing it with 10% off our tuition.
When the news first erupted, the only thing I heard about was the 10% off our tuition and my response was jokingly, that’s it? But two days later, more details were released and it came to my attention that grants are now being harder to attain. Another major change was the six month grace period being removed, meaning that the day we graduate we will have to start paying our loans back, and if this is not done, then interest will be applied. If it is not apparent enough, many of the changes are affecting students who come from low-income families.
The students and families who need assistance the most are now being thrown under the bus.
I found it really disturbing that when these new changes were announced, Doug Ford and his members were enthusiastic about them. Ford even went onto Twitter to write the following:
Our government is putting students first:
✅Making university and college more affordable lowering tuition fees by 10%
✅Choice for student fees to help students keep more money in their pocket
✅Ensuring sustainability of OSAP financial support to help students who need it most pic.twitter.com/iW0BSnKMM7
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) January 17, 2019
I find it concerning that the Premier of Ontario has left out a lot of crucial information to inform his supporters about what is really happening. Misleading tweets like these are the reason why many people follow politicians blindly. It was a slap in the face when Doug Ford was elected — many people voted for him based on his promises such as buck a beer. A politician who focuses his campaigning on making beer cheaper is setting himself up for disaster.
Many who are privileged in this society have room to follow politicians blindly, while people of colour are often the ones who suffer the most from such decisions, with no room for mistakes.
The new decision that was announced affects low-income families and students the most, and many of these students are working while going to school full time to make ends meet. To add on, the 10% we will get off our tuition will make us save nearly $600, but because of the cuts on grants and the grace period being slashed, this will result in the government being able to get back their $600+ and more. All of this is an elaborate plan to make students go into severe debt, and when it is time to pay back our loans, it will benefit them greatly. As a full-time university student, it’s concerning to me that politicians such as Doug Ford claim to care about students and turn around to slash grants.
Recently in a lecture I attended, my professor Dr. Visano brought up the topic of accessibility to education. He shared his own experience and said that university was never meant to be accessible to poor people, which stuck with me the entire day. It breaks my heart that starting next year, many students and families will struggle even more than they already do. These changes are absolutely unacceptable, and Doug Ford has to realize the negative impacts of his decision and truly start putting students and low-income families first.