As Ontario reaches full employment, many jobs go begging for people. Often it is the case that training is a prerequisite, whether you are an teacher, doctor, nurse, engineer, scientist, electrician, construction worker, brick layer, heavy equipment operator, or any number of the hundreds of jobs that go unanswered every week in Canada.
It is important to think about this just as the provincial government has announced its plan to eliminate free tuition for low-income students.
The decision will be felt by both low-income and middle-income families in Ontario. It also will impact on the thousands of immigrants who will arrive in the decade ahead.
The province also has announced a tuition reduction of 10 percent at colleges and universities in the province. The government is saying that “the tuition reductions will make education more affordable and accessible for students.” Yet often the biggest cost of post-secondary education is not tuition nor student fees, but the cost of food and accommodation.
Often those two factors are more than double the cost of tuition.
As well, the government is reducing funding to colleges and universities, as well as reducing the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), which provided a combination of grants and loans that had to be paid back. The removal of grants only will add debt to students.
The reduction of tuition, coupled with the reduction of funds to colleges and universities, all may be leading to a major reduction in the quality of education students receive through increasing class size and reducing the courses available for students to take.
What is the message that is being delivered? Is it that the government does not want children of low-income families attending post-secondary education facilities? Is it that the government wants students and families to bear a much bigger debt for education?
Or is it that the government wants businesses and industries to shoulder a bigger load to develop and train future generations?
We believe this action by the Ford government is short-sighted and will have long-term consequences into the future as 40 percent of the population will require new training for the jobs that exist today but will be lost to new technology in the future.