Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dalton McGuinty will do anything for the student vote

Ontario is barely into the New Year, but Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government is already making the same mistakes as those which plagued 2011.  It was revealed this week that post-secondary university and college students, despite being promised a 30 percent rebate on their tuition fees, will not actually be eligible for this rebate.

That’s right, Ontario students.  You voted for McGuinty because you wanted lower tuition fees, but you failed to read the non-existent fine print.

The 2011 Ontario Liberal platform promised “a 30% across-the-board postsecondary tuition grant.

That means – every year – the families of five out of six students will save $1600 per student in university and $730 per student in college.”

It sounded like a great promise.  What student doesn’t like the promise of lower tuition?

Yet the Toronto Star revealed that “mature students,” defined as any student out of high school for more than four years, are not eligible for this funding.

Details released on the Ontario Student Assistance Plan (OSAP) website also reveal this disturbing fine print not stated by McGuinty or revealed in the Liberal platform.
“You could be eligible for 30% off your student tuition if:
  • You're a full-time student at a public college or university in Ontario
  • It's been less than four years since you left high school
  • You're in a program that you can apply to directly from high school
  • Your parents' gross income is $160,000 or less”
That excludes far more than the original text which promised post-secondary students a 30 percent rebate on their tuition.  It means graduate students – those pursuing exceptionally difficult and important education – are excluded from this rebate.

As are any students not pursuing “full time studies,” even if for reasons such as health, employment, or other commitments.

Nor will distance education students be eligible, even if residing in Ontario but taking online or correspondence courses with a university based in another province.

Some of Ontario’s brightest and most educated students have been abandoned by McGuinty’s Liberals; students have been left in the cold, only after voting McGuinty back into power.

And to add one more point of lunacy to this terribly failed policy, this $420 million rebate comes at the expense of cancelling three – yes, three – grant programs which benefitted all students.

The Textbook and Technology Grant; the Trust for Student Support; and the Queen Elizabeth II Aiming For the Top Scholarship – grants and scholarships which aim to help all students - have all been cancelled to pay for McGuinty’s wasteful rebate.

Far from being a great program for students, it’s turned into the usual Liberal policy of benefitting the few at the expense of the rest.  McGuinty has completely cast aside the student vote and reneged on an important platform promise.  After all, you voted for him – he’s sitting back in the premier’s chair – so why should he care what you think?