FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, November 30, 2017 – Student Support Fund is Insufficient

TO: All media
RE: Ontario College Student Support Fund – Student Support Fund is Insufficient
FROM: Niagara College Student Administrative Council, Fanshawe Student Union, Sheridan Student Union, Georgian College Students’ Association, St. Lawrence College Cornwall Student Union, Seneca Student Federation, St. Clair Student Representative Council, Student Association George Brown College

The dust has now settled on the longest strike in the history of the Ontario College System, yet
students are still left in the dark as they attempt to access the Student Support Fund; formerly the
“Student Hardship Fund.”

Student associations across the province are asking the Government to reconsider the current
structure of the fund, as the allocated funds are insufficient. The fund will reimburse a select few
groups on campus and the ministry guidelines leaves colleges to decide what constitutes a strike
expense, ultimately leaving most students unrecognized for their hardship.

On November 20th, the Honourable Minister Matthews and the Ontario Liberals announced that a
“hardship fund” would be created for students “who experienced financial hardship as a result of the
strike.” The overall estimated, gross savings across the province was approximately $135M on the
conservative side. The fund is comprised of the colleges’ net savings from the estimated $135M, but
according to the Minister it will diminish to approximately $5M once the strike expenses of the
colleges are submitted. How can this be the case? Ministry instructions in regards to college expenses
that can be charged to this gross savings, are extremely vague, but include lost revenues, tuition
reimbursements and “added expenses caused by the strike.”

The fund is designed to reimburse students up to $500 for “incremental expenses” due to the
semesters being extended. Currently, the following students qualify for funding:

  • Students who can prove incremental childcare costs during the weeks of December 18-22, January 2-5 and April 23-27.
  • Students scheduled to graduate in December will be permitted to claim January’s rent.
  • Students incurring incremental transit costs due to extended semesters.
  • Students who rescheduled their travel plans due to the strike.

Students across the province are outraged that this fund does not acknowledge the financial
hardship of students will suffer lost wages over the Holiday Break or the over 15 days of lost class
time.

It is imperative that the Government create clear directions to the colleges as to what constitutes net
savings, as to not completely deplete the fund before students get access.

The collective student associations are asking that the Government add funding in order to aid in
the disbursement of $500 to all full-time students of all 24 Ontario colleges. All students have
experienced a financial hardship and are thus entitled to a fair and equal amount.

Student associations from across the province will continue to ensure that the student voice is
represented, and that Government and College administrations are held accountable. Minister
Matthews has continually mentioned that she “has heard from students about the hardships they
have experienced as a result of the strike.” It is time to recognize those hardships and to reform the
Student Support Fund to a format that is all encompassing, and not situationally discriminatory.

QUOTES:

Questions to Presidents:

1. What action would you like the MAESD to take in regards to amending the
fund?

“I would like to see the MAESD remove some restrictions around incremental costs and
open the opportunity for all students who have experienced hardship to access this fund. If
the MAESD is worried about the net savings being insufficient for all students, mandate the
colleges to budget a refund amount per student, rather than relying on what net savings
may amount to. Help invest in our students.”
Ryan Huckla – President, Niagara College Student Administrative Council (NCSAC)

“It is the stance of our Federation that all full-time students should receive $500.00 or an allotted
amount from the Fund. Additionally, students who have experienced a greater loss should then
have the opportunity to apply for reimbursement through a regulated process. The current
application process cannot accurately compensate students for the time wasted as well as the
immense stress for those student trying to complete their fall semester.”
LéNea Richardson – Acting President, Seneca Student Federation

2. What do you feel is the biggest deficiency in the structure of this fund?

“The biggest deficiency is fair equity for all students affected by the strike, and this speaks to the
last point where there shouldn’t be any proof needed for that baseline disbursement. There is
also the lack of clarity of the fund and how colleges are casting their expenses against the fund.”
Enrique Ponce – President, Sheridan College Student Union Inc.

“The Ministry says each student can apply for up to $500 after they “prove their hardship” yet we
are told there is only about $5M in net Hardship funds available. For that math to work, only
10,000 students can access the maximum allowable amount which is less than 5% of the full time
students in the Province. This is a system full of inherent barriers to students. That math does not
work for me. All students, at all colleges, deserve fair and equal treatment, hence we are are
requesting the funds to support that. It would be a more efficient use of public administration
money to have 24 Colleges submit strike expenses to the Ministry rather than 250,000 students
required to submit the explanations of their hardships to their College.“
Morganna Sampson – President, Fanshawe Student Union

“The lack of acknowledgement of student’s mental health, and other hardships during
the strike. Also ignoring that many students had plans of working over the holiday
break, but instead now have to be in school. This causes more financial hardship
during an already financially stressful time.”
Ryan Huckla – President, Niagara College Student Administrative Council

“The Ministry has been putting up the facade that they are really looking out for our students but
refuse to provide adequate compensation to all students affected. All student circumstances are
unique. Therefore, students should be entitiled to an allotted amount without having to endure
further duress of this application process. After five long weeks, they are entitled to be treated fairly
and equitably. Please remember that these are not just our students. These are your students . They
deserve better and on their behalf we urge you to do better.”
LéNea Richardson – Acting President, Seneca Student Federation

QUICK FACTS:

  • The MAESD announced the Student Support Fund on Monday, November 20th and gave
    colleges five days to develop protocol around the fund “in conjunction with students.”
  • The estimated gross savings from faculty wages to the college is $135M
  • $90,000 average salary + 30% remittances savings x 12,000 faculty x 5 weeks = $135M
  • The estimated amount of the fund as announced by the ministry is $5M, although total
    gross savings or expenses cannot be provided by the ministry or colleges at this time.
  • Colleges will be permitted to claim loss revenues as a result of the strike, but students
    are not permitted to claim loss wages they would have earned during the extended
    semesters.

 

CONTACTS:

Ryan Huckla – President, Niagara College Student Administrative Council
289-213-7965
sacpres@niagaracollege.ca

Enrique Ponce – President, Sheridan Student Union Inc.
905-845-9430 ext 2301
enrique.ponce@sheridancollege.ca

Morganna Sampson – President, Fanshawe Student Union
519-452-4109 ext. 6314
m_sampson2@fanshawec.ca

LéNea Richardson – Acting President, Seneca Student Federation
416-491-5050 ext 22984
lenea.richardson@senecacollege.ca

Avery Konda – President, Georgian College Students’ Association
705.728.1968, ext. 5286
Avery.Konda@GeorgianCollege.ca

Erika Randolph – President, St. Lawrence College Cornwall Student Union
613-933-6080 ext 2204
cmadlin@sl.on.ca

Nick Goran – President, St. Clair Student Representative Council
519-972-2727 x. 4524
srcpresident@stclaircollege.ca

Mercedes Burrowes – Director of Campus Life, Student Association George Brown College
416.415.5000 ext. 6978
dircampuslife@sagbc.ca

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