TORONTO, May 5, 2020 /CNW/ - The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is calling on the federal and provincial governments to work cooperatively towards a national action plan addressing full tuition support for post- secondary students for the upcoming academic year.
Ontario's colleges and universities face an uncertain future with potential drops in enrollment of both Canadian and international students.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says there is a dual need to help students and preserve the integrity of our post-secondary institutions. "Ontario is a recognized world leader for post- secondary education. Our professors and support staff are world-renowned for their expertise. Our colleges and universities are national jewels that not only bring billions into our economy but also shape minds, provide invaluable research and support towns and cities right across this province and indeed the country. It is incumbent upon both levels of government to support and expand the significant impact of these Canadian institutions. The very future of the new and emerging economy is in their hands."
Thomas noted that a national action plan should also cover government paid tuition for mature students who require retraining as well as workers displaced by the effects of the pandemic.
"This crisis has altered the employment landscape, and caused thousands of workers to lose their jobs entirely," said Thomas. "And while I commend Premier Ford and Prime Minister Trudeau for the relief they have provided to Ontario's students up to this point, much more needs to be done and this requires immediate federal and provincial coordination."
Students will be expected to pay tuition deposits by June to enroll in programs for the Fall. If a clear path to being able to cover tuition is not available over the next month, Ontario's education institutions can expect to see increasingly steeper declines for the upcoming academic year. Not only are hundreds of thousands of current jobs at risk but perhaps millions of future jobs in the new economy will evaporate.
"We need to ensure that our current and future workforce is equipped with the skills to keep our economy growing," said Thomas. "This is not a cost ? it's a mandatory investment in our province and nation's future. Our post-secondary institutions must not only be preserved but strengthened. Anything less puts our economic recovery at serious risk. And a lagging economy in this era will leave us behind other jurisdictions for a generation. The time to act is now."
SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)