Last updated: June 27, 2012 2:59 pm
Ontario budget sees focus on tuition grants, cuts to student programs
OTTAWA (CUP) — After bringing the province to the brink of its second election in less than a year, the 2012 Ontario budget has passed. The budget, which is aimed at reducing the provincial deficit by close to $1 billion, will see cuts to student programs.
The post-secondary education aspect of the budget focuses entirely on the maintenance of Premier Dalton McGuinty’s 30 per cent Off Ontario Tuition Grant.
This grant will provide every eligible full-time undergraduate or college student with $800 per academic year and $365 for students enrolled in publically funded post- secondary institutions. In order to subsidize the cost of maintaining the grant, the government has removed the Textbook and Technology Grant and the Ontario Trust for Student Support grant. The Queen Elizabeth II Aiming for the Top Scholarship will be phased out over three years and will not be awarded for the 2012-13 year.
Sarah Jayne King, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students- Ontario, is disappointed with the budget.
“What we saw in [the cutting of the government grants] was that for every $1 dedicated to financial aide, $1.20 is clawed back from the budget,” she said. “That is not good. Students are losing out.
“We actually presented to the standing committee on finance a series of recommendations and none of those were actually included in the budget that passed.”
Also, tuition in Ontario continue to increase by five to eight per cent every year.
In addition to post-secondary education, the government has cut its funding to the work-study program in order to put their focus into general employment and training services. With a current unemployment rate of 7.8 per cent, the goal is to create a “one-stop show” for Ontarians to acquire and retain employment.
However, King argues that the provincial government has cut training services that specifically adhered to the youth and that the extra focus being put on preparing for the workplace will not be enough.
“We do know that the Ontario government has cut services and whatever related to helping students and youth jobs, and that is particularly a problem when we see that youth unemployment is as high as it was during the depression.
“In terms of the work-study program, that definitely gives students a lot of jobs on campuses. Cutting the government funding downloads the cost on to the institutions and who knows how they are going to respond.”
While the budget passed, it did so without full support. Hudak's Progressive Conservatives voted against it while the New Democratic Party abstained. The hope is that if the budget stays on this track, the $15 billion deficit will be balanced by 2017-18.