Volume 92, Issue 35

Thursday, November 5, 1998

a little bit louder now


Financing input

©Dipesh Mistry/Gazette

BOY POLITICS ARE FUN. Student and provincial politicians as well as lobbyists gathered at Queen's Park yesterday to announce a new advisory committee. The University Students' Council's VP-education Nick Iozzo (third from left) was on hand, looking enthralled with the proceedings.

By Mark Brown

Gazette Staff

TORONTO – Students will have more input in the way the Ontario government financially supports them following the creation of a new advisory committee on financial assistance.

The announcement of the new committee was made official at a press conference in Toronto yesterday, by the leaders of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance and the Ontario Community College Student Parliamentary Association.

The first task of the advisory committee will be to provide advice on the province's plans to create a new Canada-Ontario Millennium Fund for students.

Minister of Education and Training, David Johnson, said he was anxious to hear back from the committee. "There is all the expertise there to give me good advice, so I am looking forward to their work and their recommendations."

Andrew Boggs, executive director of OUSA, applauded the creation of the new committee because it will bring the principle stakeholders together.

"What the committee does have is a tremendous amount of political pressure."

The committee will be made up of members from OUSA, OCCSPA, the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario, lending institutions and a number of other community-based organizations, Boggs said.

Nick Iozzo, University Students' Council VP-education, said by being recognized by the government as an official advisory body, a direct connection is made with the Ministry of Education and Training to provide recommendations which will give student input more weight.

"We are hoping the pressure that type of organization can create will help make sure the advisement we provide is not just taken seriously, but is actually implemented," Boggs said.

One of the stumbling blocks the committee must deal with involves the decision on whether to use an income contingent loan repayment program for student aid. The committee will also review the existing Ontario Student Assistance Program and suggest ways it can be improved.

Joel Harden, Ontario chair of CFS-O, said he wants to see what the other members bring to the table. He added he was more concerned about bringing the cost of education down.

Lyn McLeod, the Liberal Party's university and college critic, said her party actually called on the government to start the committee, but added she would have preferred a different composition. "I would have liked even stronger representation from students, because I think it would have been ideal for part-time students to be involved as well."

McLeod added she was glad to see the government listening to students, but said she wondered if they are really intending to listen. She added there are still questions about the government cutting funding to post secondary education once the Canadian Millennium scholarships are handed out.

Johnson responded to McLeod's claims by explaining the government has actually increased spending to universities. "The government has actually increased the total investment in post secondary education and I don't see that trend reversing because post secondary education is important."

NDP education critic Bud Wildman said he thought the committee was a good thing, but also had some concerns. "We need a commitment from the government that we will not see further deregulation of tuition fees."

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Copyright © The Gazette 1998