Posted by Liam McDermott - President
January 23, 2019 RE: Latest changes to OSAP and Fees by the Government of Ontario Dear McMaster Engineering Undergraduate Students and friends, If you have not read it in the news by now, the Government of Ontario has decided to change the way that OSAP and certain fees that are associated with the cost of education work. Although we are in support of decreasing student tuition for all programs by 10%, we are quite disappointed to see that the current approach will cause students to immediately have to worry about paying interest fees on their loans, as well as a reduction in the number of grants provided. Education is supposed to be the great equalizer and this change makes education less accessible. Additionally, the government has chosen to make certain fees non-mandatory. The MES may or may not be impacted by this change because the MES membership fee is tied to the fees students pay for career development services that Engineering Career & Co-op Services provides. A non-mandatory fee could greatly reduce the advocacy, services, and experiential learning opportunities that are provided through student groups such as the MES. These opportunities exist in order to support student wellness, learning experience, and skills development for future job opportunities. Even if the MES membership fee continues to be a mandatory fee this change will negatively impact our peers, so we do not stand for it. As the President of the MES, it should be noted that it is not my plan for the MES to sit on its hands. In response to these changes the MES will be working with the MSU, Engineering Students Societies’ Council of Ontario (ESSCO) and our other partners, to try to shape the very policies that we are governed by. We also encourage MES members to join us in advocating against the changes that make education less accessible. We also have a statement (down below) for students as a quick way for them to let their MPPs and letting the Minister of Education know that they believe that the Ontario PC government has made a huge mistake. Presidents from other Engineering Societies in Ontario have taken an interest in this initiative and I sincerely hope that they join us as well. This message can be found below and I encourage everyone to send an email (or letter) to their MPP and the Minister of Education. The blog post has a step by step process on how to get in contact with them so we can all let our concerns be heard. It is my greatest hope that people let their voices be heard, as education is a privilege we want everyone to be able to access. Sincerely, Liam McDermott Materials Engineering & Management IV President, McMaster Engineering Society Here are the instructions and statement to email as promised: Step 1: Go to https://www.ola.org/en/get-involved/contact-mpp and find out who your MPP is. Step 2: Go to your MPP’s page and copy their email Step 3: Go to your email and make a new message, copy & paste the MPP’s email into an email that you’re creating. Step 4: Make a subject line as you see fit Step 5: Feel free to add the Minster of Education’s email (Lisa Thompson), its email@example.com Copy and Paste the following message, make edits and send: Dear (Your MPP’s name) and Lisa Thompson, I have recently learned about the changes to OSAP and Student fees being implemented by the Ontario Government and am quite disappointed. Although reducing tuition by 10% is a great change in spirit, I am concerned about three of the changes that have been made. The first change is the removal of the six month grace period for the accrual of interest, the second is the reduction of grants and free tuition for low income students, the third is the changes to student fees. These changes make education less accessible, and that is simply not okay. Moreover, these changes do not make economic sense. The PC Party of Ontario is asking students who have yet to pursue their full-time career to immediately pay a loan (now with interest) when they have not yet had an opportunity to work a full-time job as a graduate. Then, the PC Party of Ontario is asking people who can barely make ends meet to accrue even more debt, right from the get go. These types of barriers directly affect graduating student’s ability to be successful, and their ability to contribute to our society. Furthermore, the move to make student group fees non mandatory actually hurts the current skills gap that students face when graduating. Employers seek students who have well rounded experiences from experiential learning opportunities, and the student group fees support and provide these types of learning opportunities. Choosing to decrease the presence of these groups, and therefore the experiential learning opportunities that are available will decrease skills development that allows students to become valuable future employees. The federal election is right around the corner and I hope that the two of you make the right choice by working towards reversing this. If not, I will be looking to supporting a government that values and supports accessible education and student skills development.