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Martini: Is OSAP really doing what it claims to be doing?

Maybe there’s a different way, writes columnist Gio Martini.

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File photo.

OPINION

Gio Martini
Columnist
The Avro Post
Our Opinion Policy.

The Ontario Student Assistance Program helps soften the financial hardship that tuition can place on a student, but should we begin looking into alternative options to support students who need financial assistance?

When Doug Ford and his Progressive Conservative Party were elected to govern Ontario, his changes to OSAP caught people’s attention.

He believed that the amount in grants they were providing to students was “unsustainable”, and that some students needed it more than others.  This impacted many people who rely on the funds to support them while finishing their studies.

Thinking about post-secondary education as an investment with financial consequences might sound economically reasonable, but you must have a path that allows those from lower income communities the option to attend.

Though it is worth debating whether schooling should be more affordable, even as much as being “free”, it’s hard to defend that a government run program such as OSAP is the most efficient way to tackle this issue.

For most students, OSAP is the most advertised (and/or their only possible) funding option. Being a government run program, OSAP can offer things that the private sector cannot, and can set the rules for their own existence. 

The design of the system allows them to treat their customers the way they want.  They can change grants to loans at anytime — without advertising it well — and make it difficult to dispute charges.

From my own personal experience I can attest to website errors, rude telephone support staff, and the inability to contact them on weekends.

When people graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in loans, it can be frightening to have to deal with such a powerful entity.

Perhaps the program could be delivered through the private sector and subsidized by the government, that way private companies can face more accountability in order to stay competitive with other institutions. 

Some students may have a more optimistic view of OSAP as it provides financial relief through its grants and temporarily interest free loans.

It may seem that it encourages people from low income communities to go to school, but OSAP doesn’t cover the opportunity cost of not working a full-time job or other living costs such as food and clothing, so for these individuals it’s still difficult to attend.

These grants and loans are likely subsidizing those who have already decided to attend post secondary school with or without the funding.

Could lowering tuition, and offering more “work for free accommodation” programs encourage these individuals to enrol in postsecondary education?

OSAP also provides financial assistance to individuals who are in programs that don’t necessarily lead to jobs after graduation and leaves them with an unaffordable bill to pay at the end of their studies.

Should the government only fund programs that will train students for in demand skills that the country will need? Or would it be a mistake to try and predict the demands of the future?

There are many questions that students and politicians should begin to ask but to blindly believe that more or less funding to OSAP is the only solution, may prove to be a costly error to both taxpayers and students. ■

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IGNITE Board to meet again in a hidden location

The student union has hidden exact locations since September.

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IGNITE’s Board of Directors, made up of elected student representatives, will be meeting on Wednesday evening at the University of Guelph-Humber, according to a schedule posted earlier this year by the student union, but no exact location or time has been made public.

The Board meeting locations were removed by the student union in September after paid staff blocked a reporter from The Avro Post from entering that month’s gathering of directors, a meeting that later turned out to be of major significance.

The Avro Post attempted to find the meeting in October but was unsuccessful. According to the IGNITE bylaws, the directors have to hold a majority vote to kick a student from the meeting, including student journalists. They are also required to post the meetings publicly.

However, IGNITE has rules currently on its Governance webpage that instruct students, who are classified as members of the union, to reach out to the executive director to obtain access to the meetings, bending the rules of their own bylaws.

If the meeting is indeed held in the University of Guelph-Humber, the typical location for the Board to gather is the conference room found by the entrance doors to the university in the Atrium. ■

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‘This is Garbage’ exhibit launches Thursday

It will be revealed in Lakeshore Campus.

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Image via Humber Today.

Garbage will be at the centre of the “This is Garbage” exhibit reveal at Humber College Lakeshore Campus on Thursday.

Sanda Van Ruymbeke will speak on critical analysis and explore the perception and constructs related to discarding material the way society does.

Ruymbeke will look at what contribution can one’s artistic practice make to challenge cultural perceptions and re-imagine the possibilities and value of garbage.

Sandra and Constant Van Ruymeke collaborated for the exhibit, which will take place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre.

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Don Cherry dropped by Sportsnet

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Don Cherry, who recently was under a lot of criticism following his poppy statement on Saturday night, was forced to step down from his long-running position on Hockey Night In Canada Monday afternoon.

Cherry, who was under fire since Saturday, was fired after his comments in which he talked about immigrants of Canada to support the troops and wear a poppy this Remembrance Day.

Cherry has had an illustrious career with Hockey Night in Canada spending 37 years a part of the business. Ron Maclean, who was Cherry’s co-host of Coaches Corner, issued his own apology during his Hometown Hockey segment yesterday evening during the Leafs-Blackhawks game.

Later Monday evening, Cherry had shared his thoughts on his firing, saying “I mean’t everything I said.”

Sportsnet had then released a lengthy statement Monday evening.

Cherry, who has been welcomed into Canadian homes for the last 37 years will not longer appear Saturday night for the first time.

What will come of Hockey Night in Canada following Cherry’s firing? Change is certainly coming and Saturday’s will no longer be the same with Ron and Don during the first intermission.

Tune in Saturday evening when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Toronto Maple Leafs at 7 p.m. ■

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