Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

February 01, 2012 13:45 ET

CUPE Ontario warns against "austerity agenda" for post-secondary education

Ontario has great opportunity to enhance social & economic success

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 1, 2012) - Social and economic success in the 21st century demands that governments protect and enhance public post-secondary education, not burden students and families with tuition debt, said Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario President Fred Hahn at a rally today organized by the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) Ontario.

"If our economy is fragile, then now is the time to invest smartly in education and training to build a stronger economy for the 21st century," Hahn said at the CFS Day of Action today, sharing the stage with student representatives from Canada and Chile. "Governments should not be lured by the false solutions of 'austerity' that will hike tuition fees up even more and slash access."

Ontario has the lowest per-student funding in the country, $15,000 less per student than Alberta, and also the largest class sizes. In those packed classrooms, full-time instructors and faculty are being replaced by temporary and contract workers.

"The Liberals have failed on recent promises to reduce tuition fees for all of Ontario's students," Hahn said. "Today, because tuition fees have increased at four times the rate of inflation, Ontario students pay the highest fees in the country."

Ontario students owe more than $7 billion to the provincial and federal governments, and even more to banks from private loans and lines of credit. Students with government loans are graduating with an average of $25,000 in debt. For students with both public and private loans, the average graduating debt is $37,000. Tuition fees have risen 59 percent in the last six years under the Liberal government.

Hahn thanked students for the support they showed during the union's recent struggle over the Toronto city budget and during the current round of collective bargaining for teaching assistants and researchers, and encouraged them to keep the pressure on the McGuinty government.

"Our members are both workers and students in the post-secondary education system, so our union sees quality of learning and the needs of the sector from many perspectives," said Hahn. "Together, students and workers will question austerity and keep education accessible to all."

Contact Information

  • CUPE Ontario
    Fred Hahn
    President
    416-540-3979

    CUPE Ontario
    David Robbins
    Communications
    613-878-1431