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Students Are Getting Shafted by Budget Cuts

Written by Connor Briggs-Morris

Image by Tyler Doupe from Student Life Network

With recent news of budget cuts to funding for some major student interests, find out how you may be affected.

Doug Ford’s Conservative Ontario government has been making budget cuts left and right to all sorts of programs, but one of his most recent slashes is going to prove especially brutal for students. CTV News’s Colin D’Mello chronicled the whole ordeal as it happened.

Budget Cuts #1: University Campuses

Here’s the gist of it: major expansions planned by three universities were unceremoniously axed. The three locations in question are York’s Markham campus (in partnership with Seneca College), Laurier’s Milton campus (in partnership with Conestoga College), and Ryerson’s Brampton campus (with Sheridan College).

Construction on the Markham campus was about to get underway with $125 million from the government. Likewise, the other two had secured $90 million each in provincial funding and were planning to host 2,000 students apiece.

Individually, the schools all released statements describing feelings of disappointment and surprise.

Merrilee Fullerton, minister of training, colleges and universities, says the province cancelled the funding to tackle the $15 billion deficit, because it’s apparently “irresponsible and reckless” to fund universities now.

The total savings amount to over $300 million but that also means 8000 annual post-secondary spaces are gone. That’s in addition to the potential jobs and economic growth lost in those three cities.

Worth noting, the news broke less than 24 hours after Ford’s political rival, Patrick Brown, was announced as mayor of Brampton, one of the proposed sites. This is troubling considering Ford’s recent track record of using his power to get back at perceived opponents. Honestly, it’s entirely within the realm of possibility that this whole thing is just an act of vengeance.

York is still the only jurisdiction in North America with over 1 million people that’s lacking a university.

Budget Cuts #2: Financial Aid

If all of this wasn’t enough…it gets a lot worse. In spite of the criticism the government has faced for their budget cuts to the proposed university sites, Fullerton has made it clear that it’s still very possible they continue with this trend and cancel the government’s tuition program.

Unlike these proposed universities, which were still hypothetical, this program, implemented by the former Liberal government, was already in use. The financial aid system designed to help lower-income families pay fees saw non-repayable grants given to more than 210,000 students last year.

That means for every three students that read this, one of you was using this program. In other words, it was looking pretty useful.

In essence, the government is saying that programs like this have put them in “dire straits”. Apparently funding students and education is a burden they shouldn’t have to bear.

We think we know some students who might disagree.

Canada’s Luckiest Student

A Different Kind of Student Aid

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.