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.