FREDERICTON, N.B. — Together with over 75 student organizations across Canada representing over one million students, the St. Thomas University Students’ Union (STUSU) signed a letter voicing collective disappointment with the Ontario government’s January 17 announcement.

The announced changes regarding the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), tuition and ancillary fees (non-tuition fees) raise red flags for students and their families. We firmly believe it lacked proper consultation with students and was a step backwards for Ontario.

New Brunswick’s targeted free tuition programs were modeled after OSAP. The New Brunswick Free Tuition Program and Tuition Relief for the Middle Class provided support to 7,744 New Brunswick students in the most recent academic year, helping to reduce the financial barriers to accessing postsecondary education.

Each year, hundreds of students are elected across Ontario, and Canada, on promises to keep postsecondary institutions and governments accountable, to ensure the health and safety of students, and fill crucial gaps in services that postsecondary institutions do not provide. This includes the provision of transit passes, health and dental plans, peer-to-peer support, bursaries, support services, non-partisan government advocacy, and more.

Ontario’s newly announced “Student Choice Initiative,” allows students to opt-out of the fees which ensure the success of these initiatives and services, putting all of them at risk. As a result, the Student Choice Initiative threatens the postsecondary student experience in Ontario.

However, this is not just a concern for Ontario. This could set a national precedent that would have a measurable impact on the student experience and campus culture across the country. In this case, students would be less safe, more vulnerable and left without a voice in the postsecondary sector — one which fundamentally involves and necessitates an active student voice.

For more details, please find the national letter linked here https://bit.ly/2Bcg1fA.

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Established over 75 years ago, the St. Thomas University Students’ Union (STUSU) is a democratic body representing all students at St. Thomas University. The mission of the Students’ Union is to effectively represent and provide services to the students of St. Thomas University and to advocate the position of the organization before the University’s administration, municipal government, provincial ministries and federal departments. The Students’ Union strives to enhance the life and experience of students with a positive educational, social and cultural environment while attending St. Thomas University.

Media Contact: Brianna Workman, STUSU President, su_president@stu.ca, 506-460-0303.