THE UPDATE | Issue 2: Waiting and Waiting

Written By: Aidan Cole Currie, AVP Administration

Sorry for the delay on this one everyone, we had to fix up a couple things but we’re back on schedule!

        Welcome back to The Update, the weekly blog where you’ll be able to keep up with recent developments, how students and the UTSU are responding, and media coverage of the Ford government’s changes to student finance.

Last Week, In Review

Everything you need to know about what has happened recently

        It’s been a quiet week for onlookers as the government deliberates on how it will deliver on the plan outlined in its original announcements. This is nothing new, and really highlights the government’s inadequate communication on the subject. One of the loudest criticisms originally made in response to the plan presented by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) was about the alarming lack of detail in it. The government’s promised outcomes and roadmap to getting there raised a thousand questions for students, institutions, and journalists alike — and worse yet, the government seemed to lack answers to most all of these questions. A common question seems to have emerged: “Does the government really know what it’s doing here?”

        The government’s intended changes to non-tuition fees seem to have begged the most questions, particularly from student organizations whose futures hang in the balance. In an interview with CBC, the Minister of the MTCU lent credit to concerns of this kind by personally demonstrating the procrastination practiced by the Ontario government to date:

        Galloway: “Why are you now making student fees optional?”

        Fullerton: “There will be more details on the reclassification of the fees as time goes on. But we wanted to put students first.”

        The most recent information on the government’s implementation plan emerged in the form of a slideshow detailed in reporting by The Varsity on February 5th. It has been speculated that the deck was presented as part of a technical debrief given by government officials to postsecondary institutions. The authenticity of the document has not been verified to date.

Students in Response

An overview of how students and the UTSU are responding and organizing

        Last week saw thousands of students across the province march in protest of the Ford government’s changes. Protests were arranged in the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, Kingston, and Guelph. The protests were organized by groups such as Students For Ontario and the Ontario Students Action Network.

        The U of T NDP hosted a town hall featuring MPP Chris Glover, the Official Opposition Critic for Colleges and Universities. Glover openly criticized the Ford government’s changes, while pushing the official opposition’s message refuting the new rules regarding non-academic fees, and reaffirming its intent to fight the Ford government on this issue.

        The Students Law Society (SLS) put out a statement summarizing the Ford government’s changes, including how they will impact students at law schools across the province. This information is critical for law students, and students in general, to understand how they are affected by these changes.

        The UTSU continues its work lobbying the provincial government, meeting with both PC and opposition MPPs in an effort to gather information and negotiate changes wherever possible.

Digging Deeper

Some helpful media coverage for you to check out

        Alex Usher is the president of Higher Education Strategy Associates, a consultancy that provides higher-education policy analysis and advice to governments and postsecondary institutions. Usher’s maintains a blog called One Thought, and recently posted a thoughtful piece debating whether student loans really are that much worse than grants.

        The Varsity has been reporting thoroughly on the Ford government’s changes, including a comprehensive summary of what we know so far about the government’s intentions. One highlight: U of T is set to lose $88 million in revenue next year.


Thanks for reading. Check back next week for more of The Update.