News In Brief

Ontario unveils post-secondary funding in 2006 budget

The Ontario provincial government has announced its plans to invest $6.2 billion in post-secondary education by 2009-10.

Following the government’s March 23 budget, Kingston and the Islands MPP John Gerretsen announced a program called Reaching Higher, a funding package which includes changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). A student who comes from a family with two children can now receive up to $75,000 instead of the previous $35,000.

The government also promised to forgive the excess debt of any OSAP student that is more than $7,000 per year.

Additionally, there has been an increase in the book and supplies allowance, a portion of an OSAP loan that can be used for school supplies, for the first time since the 1980s.

“[We want to] make sure that those students that qualify for post-secondary education have the ability to go there by making, in effect, student aid money more readily available and making sure that it’s not going to be an ongoing burden by limiting the amount of repayable loan under the OSAP program,” Gerretsen told the Journal.

With an additional $300 million investment by 2009-10, the OSAP program will see its funding double.

The budget also includes additional money for university operating grants and increases to graduate student funding.

The budget comes on the heels of the Liberal’s new tuition framework, which will allow tuition increases to a maximum of 4.5 per cent per year for first-year Arts and Science students and four per cent for upper-year Arts and Science students starting next year.

City recommends against Memorial Centre rental

Kingston city staff have recommended against allowing the University to rent the Memorial Centre ice rink during Queen’s Centre construction. The University has requested to use the rink for intramurals, Physical and Health Education classes and varsity teams between 2007 and 2013, when Jock Harty Arena is demolished.

Herb Steacy, facility and services manager with Queen’s Athletics told the Journal a new University rink is scheduled to open in 2012.

City staff told the Kingston Whig-Standard there was no ice time available at the Memorial Centre, and that the only way a large-scale rental could occur—the University wants approximately 1,000 hours per school year—would be following the completion of a west-end multiplex or the proposed Large Venue Entertainment Complex.

The committee also recommended the University build an interim ice pad for intramurals and classes, and to rent the Memorial Centre for the varsity teams.

—Compiled by Christina Bossart, with files from Anna Mehler Paperny

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