Volume 93, Issue 30

Friday, October 22, 1999


Online votes problematic for election

Market returns to downtown core

Weston's address attacks OSAP fraud

London opts to defer Western's cash request

Government money to form an alliance

Food services rolling in the dough again


Caught on campus


Weston's address attacks OSAP fraud

By Stephanie Cesca and Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

After outlining key education issues, yesterday's parliamentary Throne speech met with mixed reactions from post-secondary officials across the province.

Hilary Weston, Ontario's lieutenant-governor, delivered the speech at Queen's Park and made reference to the province's obligation to ensure willing and qualified students will be able to attend either college or university.

A commitment to increased student aid and expanding courses with direct links to jobs were also mentioned in the speech. As well, Weston addressed initiatives which began earlier this year, such as the Aiming for the Top scholarship fund, allotted for the top 10,000 students entering university and the Super Built Growth Fund, a $742 million pool of cash for post-secondary infrastructure.

Weston also said it was time to crack down on fraud within the Ontario Student Assistance Program.

"We were very pleased the government took time in their Throne speech today to say every Ontario student will have a place in the future," said David Scott, a spokesperson for the Council of Ontario Universities.

"Certainly, we believe the government is making an increased commitment to post-secondary education. Overall, it was something we were encouraged by," he said.

Kerry Delaney, spokesperson for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, also defended the speech. "We're committed to ensuring a place for every qualified student who wants to attend a post-secondary institution. The speech made a very strong commitment to access. I happen to think we have a terrific program," she said.

But Joel Harden, Ontario chair for the Canadian Federation of Students, said he was not at all impressed with the oration.

Harden said the majority of the speech was made up of one thing. "A lot of fluff. What was particularly annoying was the repeated principle for every qualified student being able to attend university, regardless of financial background. I found that quite insulting in light of the reality more people can't attend school because they can't find a way to pay for it," he said.

Steve Peters, a Liberal Member of Provincial Parliament for Elgin-Middlesex-London, agreed with Harden. "I didn't hear any news of benefit to students in post-secondary education. They claim they're going to crack down on OSAP fraud, but here's a government who's quite frankly caused the problem and now they're going to treat students like criminals," he said.

Delaney said the bottom line was students who made fraudulent claims on OSAP applications had to be put in check. "From where I sit, you just can't tolerate cheating. It's just not fair to have people work against the system when others are playing fair," she said. "We've gotten letters from students complaining about what they've seen going on. It's time to get fair."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999