ELLIOT LAKE — Sault Ste. Marie MPP Ross Romano should be using his new position as minister responsible for colleges and universities to allow students in Northern Ontario to have the same opportunities he had, not take them away, said Michael Mantha, MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin.
“I was shocked to read that the new minister for Training, Colleges and Universities, Ross Romano, said he used OSAP to get his education, but is still completely in favour of taking OSAP away from this generation of students,” said Mantha. “Why is Mr. Romano championing Doug Ford’s sweeping cuts to student aid, and to our colleges and universities? Doesn’t he know what that will do to students in Northern Ontario?”
The Ford Conservatives cut $360 million from universities and $80 million from colleges — a funding hole that will likely lead to skyrocketing tuition in 2021 to make up for it. At the same time, the Ford Conservatives cancelled free tuition for the lowest income students, cut OSAP supports, and reduced non-repayable OSAP grants.
“Students are scrambling to find the money to go to college or university this fall, trying to borrow from banks on top of their OSAP loans, and, in some cases, reconsidering whether they can afford to go to school at all. Mr. Romano was able to get an education because of OSAP,” said Mantha. “Now, he’s taking it away from other northerners.
“Mr. Romano, use your power as minister to reverse the cuts to OSAP and allow students the same opportunity to study in Northern Ontario that you had.”
Ontario students already carry the highest levels of student debt in the country. Once they leave school, they will have student loan payments the size of mortgage payments. To make matters worse, Ford and Romano cancelled the six-month interest-free grace period OSAP loans, so the Ford Conservatives will now be collecting interest the very day a student leaves school. That will force students to rack up more debt before they’ve even have had a chance to find a job.
Under the Liberal government the province was making over $25 million a year in profit from student debt and now the Ford Conservatives want to squeeze even more from students.
The NDP has been fighting for a better start for students with less debt, which means converting student loans to grants.