About 20 people gathered outside of Tabaret Hall to express their concerns over policies enacted by the Ford government
About 20 University of Ottawa students, staff, and faculty gathered outside of Tabaret Hall on Friday to protest the provincial government’s new policies tied to the post-secondary education system, including the Student Choice Initiative (SCI), cuts to OSAP, and the limiting of wage increases.
“We want to send a strong message to Doug Ford and his government that some of his policies are not actually policies that are supported by students and workers on campus,” said Anne-Marie Roy, communication and research officer for the Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa and one of the organizers of the rally.
“The Ford government needs to reinstate grants rather than loans, and provide accessible tuition for students in Ontario instead of locking them out of their education,” Sofia Descalzi, chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students, announced at the rally.
Descalzi said they believe the Ford government is trying to dismantle student unions, referring to the Ford government’s new policy allowing students to opt-out of non-essential postsecondary student fees, a policy which has reduced student union’s budget and services.
“Our opt-in rates this year was 78 per cent. Even though that’s still a significant number, the other 22 per cent would have been helpful for the qualities and services of campus life programs,” said Judy El-Mohtadi, the University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) interim equity commissioner. The UOSU also helped organize the rally.
Lylia Rezqui is a political science student who attended the rally. She says the government isn’t offering enough funding for education.
“It’s not fair that teachers that work part-time don’t have the same rights as full-time teachers and are receiving all of these cuts.”
The Ford government introduced legislation in June that restricts wage increases for the public sector, significantly more so impacting contracted teaching staff than their full-time counterparts.
James Casey, a political science and economics student who was unable to enroll in classes this year, also attended the rally.
“I can’t go back this year because of cuts to the OSAP,” said Casey. “It’s frustrating that I can’t go back because of the cuts and it’s demoralizing to see this government not prioritize students from low-income families and cut tuition rates for richer students.”
Casey said the earliest he will be able to complete his undergrad is by the time he turns 25, and that these cuts have caused a huge set back in his life and the lives of many other students.
“Students are being impacted in more ways than just financially. I know a lot of people where this problem has been having a direct impact on their mental health,” he said.