Premier Dalton McGuinty and Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi were out last week announcing that Ontario University and College Students could apply for a 30% Tuition Grant. They were seen TV and read on the Twitterverse stating the benefits of how the province would be giving money back. The biggest item missing in this whole ordeal was a provincial budget and how the province would or could afford to give the money back.
I remember the day that the announcement was made during the Provincial campaign and how my thoughts were ‘great, they are buying votes again this time they are doing it with a Money Back guarantee for students just like giving Ontario another day off did in 2007.’
After the announcement was made I was out door knocking in Ottawa Centre, talk was all about the rebate, how exciting it would be to get that money back. Lacking then when the campaign promise was made (as it is today) was the elephant in the room of HOW Ontario was going to afford it and what will be the actual cost to the taxpayer of the rebate? Naqvi, who is the Parliamentary Assistant to the Ontario Finance Minister, was not hinting this week as to how the government was going to afford the millions to be paid out. Talking door to door about the grant I asked the question to voters I spoke to “who do you expect to pay for this?” The answer is, all of us, the parents of the student receiving the grant, and those that do not have children in post-secondary school, through higher taxes or increased student fees and further increases in tuition.
A few Tweets through the day stated that the Ontario PC’s were against helping families, the truth of the matter is that he PC Party was calling on Colleges and Universities to make post-secondary school more affordable and accessible for all of Ontario, no matter what tax bracket your family fell into. Every single Ontario family felt the pinch of education costs escalating year over year. I am not holding any hope that the rebates paid out this year will cover the increase for tuition in 2012- 2013. What is interesting to read are all the tweets about the Tuition Grant, there are a fair number of students and parents that are unhappy and were not afraid to state it. By searching the #30off hash tag in Twitter you can see what everyone is saying about the rebate, not just those who gave it to us.
Here’s an incredible thought, how about if a tuition grant was NOT needed because the cost of College and University tuition DID NOT increase? Not having to scrimp and save for that money in the first place seems like a much better alternative to receiving the grants to pay back the extra loaned or borrowed. The tuition rebate grants will not reduce tuition, only a government dedicated to working with the Universities and Colleges to increase post-secondary spaces while holding steady or decreasing tuition can be effective in making everyone in Ontario benefit from an affordable and accessible education. Sadly we do not have that government in Ontario right now.
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