August 27, 2016

We the Students

In January 2019, the Ontario government announced cuts to post-secondary education that will deeply impact access to post-secondary education, particularly for marginalized students. The proposed cuts include a ten percent tuition cut without a corresponding investment in public funding to universities, which could lead to larger class sizes, reduced student services and job insecurity for workers on campus.

Announced changes to OSAP include more loans and less grants, the elimination of the six month interest-free grace period for OSAP loans following graduation and changing the definition of an “independent student” as someone who has been out of school for six rather than four years. The Ontario Provincial Budget also cut $671 million in spending from Post Secondary Education, which includes OSAP. 

Finally, the ‘Student Choice Initiative’ categorizes some student services as essential and others as non-essential, and requires an online opt-out option for non-essential services at the time of billing.

We are deeply concerned about the cuts to OSAP and student services disproportionately affecting low-income and marginalized students. For example, food banks and drop-in centres are not considered an essential service under the new framework. Students’ rights to organize, such as through APUS, are under direct attack and our capacity to advocate for students, provide valuable services such as printing, tax clinics, and bursaries, and build important community spaces on campus are being threatened.

In consultation with our membership, Board and Assembly, APUS has been advocating against these cuts in the following ways:

  • APUS attended an emergency rally against the cuts on January 18, organized by CFS-Ontario and CUPE Ontario at Queen’s Park

  • We attended grassroots student-led rallies against the cuts on January 25 and February 4. We also co-hosted banner-making for these rallies for students with other student groups
  • We released a statement on January 22 against the cuts to post-secondary education.
  • We co-hosted a Letter-Writing Party with SBA on February 7 for students to write letters to their MPPs.
  • Our VP External and VP Internal met with and lobbied many provincial MPPs the week of February 18th 2019.
  • APUS launched Tell Them No: An Open Letter to the University of Toronto, calling on the administration to stand in solidarity with the tri-campus student community and say no to the reckless cuts to post-secondary education.

  • APUS met with the Office of the Vice Provost Students, UTGSU, SCSU and UTMSU to ask the administration to say no to implementing the proposed changes and spoke to the value of all student services and student groups on our campuses, including those offered by levy groups and student clubs.
  • We organized a Student Walkout on the St. George campus called We The Students Say No on March 20th. We worked with student and labour partners, including CUPE 3902, OPIRG, UTGSU, ASSU and SBA to co-host breakfast and banner-making, and a solidarity rally and march. Coordinating actions were held by SCSU and UTMSU. 

  • We are participating in CFS-Ontario’s We The Students campaign, collecting petition signatures and encouraging our members to get in contact with their local MPP’s.
  • In November 2019, the Divisional Court of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that the ‘Student Choice Initiative’ be deemed unlawful.
  • The Government of Ontario then filed an appeal to the decision of the Ontario Divisional Court on December 6, 2019, to overturn the Student Choice Initiative ruling. The appeal was then reviewed and the court has decided to proceed with the appeal hearing.
  • In August of 2021, the court confirmed the decision that the Student Choice Initiative framework conflicts with the legislation governing Ontario’s colleges and universities and cannot be imposed upon them by the exercise of authority.