Finally, some answers on the York strike

Students will be eligible for relief for academic loans of more than $7,000


With back-to-work legislation passed by the Ontario legislature, students at York University will be returning to classes on Monday.

Today, in the legislative assembly, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities John Milloy gave an answer to one of the questions I posed to him back in December.

I asked him if the $7,000 yearly “debt cap” for government loans will remain in place for York University students forced to take extra loans to finish their school year.

Today, he stated “Students will be eligible … to get relief for loans that total over seven-thousand dollars for the academic year.” (Youtube link to question & answer) He further stated that the government is still formulating a support plan for York students.

The continuation of the $7,000 “debt cap” is a good place to start. This means the most needy students will not be punished with increased government debt due to the York strike. That said, the supports for the high-needs students is too low to properly support them and the additional four weeks of OSAP support doesn’t meet the increased cost due of living in Toronto for an extra four weeks.

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario is pushing the government to do more. “[N]on-repayable financial assistance should be extended to students whose expenses have been increased substantially because of the 3 month strike,” wrote Joel Duff, Ontario organiser.

I agree with the CFS-O, the government must protect students from being harmed financially by the strike. They are innocent bystanders in this dispute. The government must immediately unveil a comprehensive plan to assist students; after all, they’ve had 12 weeks to come up with a plan and there is no excuse for not having it done already.


Finally, some answers on the York strike

  1. Why do you think that a $7k debt cap will help the neediest most? It’s an easy scheme to game for high-income households: “Okay junior, take out the maximum debt; we’ll cover it. After that, everything else is free. Ka-ching!”

  2. It will help the neediest students more than middle-income students because the neediest students will already be over $7,000 in loans for the year. Any additional loans are effectively grants for them.

    Students who’ve already recieved, for example, $6500 will recieve some “grant” money when their new loans put them over $7,000.

    I will agree with you, there are people who game the system.

  3. Did anyone notice that the same day the York back-to-work legislation is passed both CUP3902 (UofT) settle and the Ottawa Transit union opts for binding arbitration rather than go through BTWL. Remember CUPE 3903 was offered binding arbitration back in November. Perhaps 3903’s self-immolation wasn’t entirely fruitless, although for 50,000 students it was painful to watch. Don’t mention it, Dalton.

  4. That $7,000 limit, Stephen, relates to OSAP. It’s the maximum amount of debt a student can normally be left with for two terms of study. Anything beyond that, to the maximum OSAP cap of $11,900 is forgiven. That doesn’t include summer study, however. The maximum three-term debt is $10,500. Joey’s question, therefore, is very relevant and one I hadn’t considered. Will students who need to extend their studies still qualify under the $7,000 cap? It’s good to see they will.

    Your question, which seems to call into doubt the entire policy rather than any special response to this strike, is relevant but a bit thin on analysis. It isn’t as easy as parents simply refusing to pay for their children’s education. OSAP does take into account parental income, subject to rules about when students become self-supporting and independent adults, and various other policies. The system is far from perfect. Few systems are. But it is considerably more sophisticated than you suggest.

  5. Ah. A cap (inversely) related to parental income makes sense. Thanks for the clarification.