The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) launched a letter-writing campaign on Sept. 9, vying for the attention of Premier Doug Ford and to register students’ displeasure with his government’s recent changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP).
Students who participate in the campaign—which has secured more than 500 signatures—author letters about how recent cuts to the program have personally affected them. The letters are addressed to Premier Doug Ford, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, Ross Romano, and students’ local MPPs.
“What we’re asking for in the letter is to reverse the changes to OSAP,” Catherine Dunne, OUSA President, told The Journal in an interview.
“We wanted to do something concrete,” Dunne said. “We know that MPPs track the letters that they receive, and so we wanted to do something that we could measure and could hopefully have a significant impact.”
OUSA, which represents 150,000 students in the province, wrote to Romano on Sept. 9 calling on the provincial government to reverse cuts to OSAP and to consult with students about further changes to student assistance.
“There are [fewer] grants, which we think is really problematic because it hurts those who need it the most,” Dunne said. “We know that marginalized students, such as first-generation post-secondary students, low-income [students], and Indigenous [students] are more sensitive to debt aversion.”
“It’s not just a change from grants to loans, it’s a reduction in the absolute number of funding,” she added. “There’s now a funding gap for students to be able to attend university, so a lot of our students across the province are taking on second or third jobs in order to be able to cover their costs.”
David Bath, AMS commissioner of external advocacy, expressed the Society’s support for the initiative. “Aside from just statistics and data, it kind of puts a face to the story and makes it a little bit more relatable, in the sense that this is actually happening to people around our campuses.”
Campaign, Doug Ford, OSAP, OUSA
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