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MPP calls for education minister to admit drop in enrolment

An open letter sent to the PC minister.

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File photo, graphic.

A Liberal member of provincial parliament on Tuesday wrote an open letter to the minister in charge of post-secondary education, calling on his ministry to reveal the number of students unable to attend university or college this year due to student loan cuts.

MPP Michael Coteau, one of six remaining Liberals in the provincial parliament, asked in his letter to Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Ross Romano to admit that post-secondary enrolment is down due to Ontario Student Assistance Program cuts.

“Your government cut funding to OSAP by $660 million. At the same time, you cut funding to universities by $360 million and to colleges by $80 million–all to give a few hundred-dollars reduction in tuition,” Coteau, the MPP for Don Valley East in Toronto wrote.

The provincial Progressive Conservative government announced earlier this year a reform package that cut domestic tuition by 10 per cent, slashed grants and loans offered via OSAP and introduced optional student fees via the Student Choice Initiative, a move opposed by student unions.

Calling the OSAP cuts “misguided and wrong”, Coteau said that “if enrolment decline is as drastic as is widely indicated through available evidence across the sector, this represents a catastrophic failure that will impact thousands of students, particularly low-income students.”

“There is no better investment a government can make in our future economic competitiveness than training up our young people or helping adults return to school.”

Beyond domestic students, Coteau pointed out that institutions will have to bring in more foreign students to fill the tuition gap. Any decline would also impact the local economies of any college or university.

Coteau said that he was the first member of his family to graduate from university, which would have been impossible without OSAP, writing that “the greatest waste in Ontario is the waste of human potential, and these foolish cuts to universities and colleges are harming thousands of students and our economic prospects.”

Under the previous Liberal provincial government, the bottom 200,000 students in terms of income were able to attend post-secondary on 100 per cent grants, virtually free. The degrees of grants were higher for students in general and there was movement towards universal education in Ontario.

However, when the Progressive Conservatives won the provincial election of 2018, the government under Premier Doug Ford slashed OSAP to a point where no student is eligible for 100 per cent grants and many students have said they are unable to return this fall due to the financial toll.

The New Democratic Party took the official opposition as the Liberals under Kathleen Wynne crumbled. The NDP promised universal education and loan forgiveness if they were brought into power.

The Liberal MPP is running for the leadership of the provincial Liberal Party and, if he wins, will go up against Doug Ford and Andrea Horwath, who received a vote of confidence earlier this year, in 2022.

The Post also reached out to the provincial government and the New Democrats for comment.


‘Don’t give up’

Michael Coteau, the MPP for Don Valley East and a leadership candidate for the provincial Liberals, told The Avro Post in an interview that students should not give up because of the extended struggles that they now face.

“Don’t give up,” Coteau said when asked what he would tell students going through financial hardship, adding: “don’t let [Premier] Doug Ford and his vision for Ontario ruin your vision for yourself”.

As for what students can do in the fight to defend their education, Coteau said that there is two approaches. There is an advocacy side where students can “make noise”, for example, through student organizations, and a personal side: the impact of the changes to each individual.

The United Kingdom-born MPP encouraged students to stand strong and have “resilience”.

Coteau applauded the student unions and campus newspapers that are fighting the Student Choice Initiative, an aspect of the financial reforms introduced by the province earlier this year.

When asked about what he saw campuses doing to defend students, Coteau cited a “culture of fear” within the institutions themselves, including inside the public colleges and universities. ■

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Vikas Kumar

    September 6, 2019 at 10:02 am

    Thanks for this information sir

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Factbox: Every decision made by the Board this term

A fact box regarding the Board of Directors.

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This is a specific list of every known decision made by the current term of IGNITE’s Board of Directors, since May 2019.

The items are organized by significance, but are accompanied by time stamps.


Who’s who?

Ercolé Perrone is the executive director of IGNITE and the top paid staff. He has worked at the student union for over a decade.

The Board of Directors is a governing body made up usually of nine directors, but this year it is 10 because, for the first time, there is an Orangeville director.

The executives are made up of one president and a vice president from North and Lakeshore Campuses as well as the University of Guelph-Humber.

Kristin Gavlan is the Leadership Initiatives Coordinator.

IGNITE is the student union for members at Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber.


Major items first:

  • Sept. 11, 2019: Directors pass package of seven bylaw amendments that change the structure of how IGNITE will govern. More on these proposals here.
  • Nov. 13, 2019: Directors pass Board policy update banning all non-members of the Board from attending meetings, a move highly unusual for a student union. More here.
  • Oct. 9: First talks in minutes regarding closing off the Board of Directors meetings and the proposed “Media Days”.

  • At each meeting the minutes of the previous one was passed. IGNITE is then, according to its bylaws, to post the approved meeting minutes from the month previous. However, the student union has been late, sometimes by over 50 days, each time this academic year.
  • May 9, 2019: Neto Naniwambote chosen as chair of the Board and Nav Sidhu chosen as vice-chair. More here.
  • May 9, 2019: Motion to approve the appointment of Vanessa Silaphet as the Board Secretary for 2019-2020. More here.
  • May 9, 2019: Motion to approve the appointment of Monica Khosla – President and Megan Roopnarine – Vice President Guelph-Humber, as the alternate signing authorities.
  • Sept. 11: Approval of May 9 meeting minutes. However, these minutes will not be posted for some time. More here.
  • Sept. 11: Approval of hired Vice President Shay Hamilton after election Simran quit over the summer.
  • Sept. 11: BDO issues a clean audit report. 2018-2019 Audited Financial Statements approved.
  • Sept. 11: Executive Director Ercole Perrone presents an update for the revised budget with students currently interacting with optional fees. October meeting will have update.
  • Oct. 9: Budget approval, revealing the opt-in rate for optional student fees. More here.

Below is a link to each set of Board of Directors meeting minutes that have been released so far.

May 9

Sept. 11

Oct. 9

Nov. 13 ■

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IGNITE ramps up promotion ahead of Special Meeting

A new poster was released on Friday.

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Photo of IGNITE banner in the North Campus Student Centre on Jan. 16, 2020/TAP.

IGNITE on Friday ramped up its promotion of a critical Special Meeting of the Members with new posters calling on students to “voice your opinion” and vote on a package of proposed bylaw amendments that would bring significant changes to the structure of the student union if passed.

Any Humber College or University of Guelph-Humber student with their post-secondary identification is allowed entry into the meeting taking place in North Campus’ Student Centre, with a live stream taking place in Lakeshore’s K Building. It starts at 11 a.m. on Jan. 22.

Photo of IGNITE poster on Jan. 17, 2020.

Beyond the new poster, encouraging students to “amplify your voice”, IGNITE has in the past week published a blog post giving “three reasons” for its members to show up to the Special Meeting, or SMOM, and posted a formal, though scarce agenda. Also, freshly printed literature was first seen on Thursday that outlined what the new structure of IGNITE would look like with hired executives.

An email went out on Friday afternoon to all students from the student union encouraging students to attend the SMOM. “IGNITE will propose policy updates to align ourselves with the Ontario Not-for-profit Corporations Act,” the email read.

At the Special Meeting, several bylaw amendments previously approved by the elected Board of Directors will come forward to the student body at-large for approval. The proposed changes include hiring executives instead of an election process and giving more unilateral power to the Board, among five other items.

The amendment to end executive elections and other policy moves being made by the student union to cut off Board of Directors meetings are part of a process to move IGNITE towards a more corporate future that officials claim is in the “best interest” of students and align the organization closer with the Ontario Non-for-profits Corporations Act. ■ ■

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Photos: Vigil for Iran plane crash victims at Humber College

Photos by The Avro Post.

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Photo by Joelle Awad on Jan. 16, 2020.

Humber College on Thursday held community gatherings at North and Lakeshore Campuses.

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