Ontario PCs – Why We are Putting Ontario Students First

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Thunder BayQUEEN’S PARK – Last week Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak and I launched a petition calling on Dalton McGuinty to keep Ontario dollars for Ontario students by cancelling his plan to hand out $30 million in scholarships to foreign students and instead to invest those funds in Ontario students.  This lucrative $40,000 per student foreign scholarship is evidence of how out of touch Mr. McGuinty’s government is with the people it serves.

This $30 million foreign scholarship giveaway is an affront to Ontario families who are struggling to afford to put their children through university.  Just look at what they are faced with.  Ontario not only has the highest tuition out of any province, we also have the largest class sizes and student unemployment rate in Canada.  Instead of addressing those alarming numbers, Mr. McGuinty finds it easier to ignore the basics and create programs that no Ontario family asked for.

It is also clear that this government has an easier time making new promises rather than deliver on old ones.  In 2007, Mr. McGuinty promised in the Throne Speech to deliver a $300 grant to every full-time student for textbook and technology needs.  When I asked the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities in March why the government is only offering half of that amount to only a fraction of students, John Milloy said because of financial circumstances the government had to curb the program.  Fast forward eight months and he miraculously found $30 million to give $40,000 foreign scholarships, yet he can’t find the money to pay for his promise to deliver $300 to every Ontario college and university student for their textbook and technology needs.  It is obvious that Dalton McGuinty is out of touch with the priorities of Ontario families.

By introducing this foreign scholarship program the government is turning its attention away from tremendous domestic challenges faced by post-secondary institutions.  In 2010/11 Ontario graduate students saw a 10.6% increase in tuition fees, and undergrads saw a 5.4% increase. The $6,307 average amount undergraduate students now pay is more than any other province.  Class sizes in Ontario universities are also the largest in the country with one professor for every 27 students – 15% higher than the rest of Canada.  Then there is the average debt of a university graduate last year, totalling $26,680.

It seems that Mr. McGuinty has lost all concept of how his grand experiments are affecting Ontario families who are saddled with these extraordinary numbers.  A woman from Guelph wrote this to me, “My daughter is in 3rd year university and it has been a financial struggle.  She holds two jobs and is a full-time student and as pensioners, we can only help so much.  The economy has impacted all our lives, but we just get slapped with more taxes, such as the HST, so we can all struggle some more.”

Mr. McGuinty doesn’t seem to realize that families are worried about putting food on the table, paying the hydro bill or rising auto insurance premiums and putting money towards tuition for college or university.  This notion that Ontario taxpayers have an infinite capacity to pay for every idea that Mr. McGuinty comes up with is ridiculous.  That is why the Ontario PC Party is focussed on getting back to the basics, and reinvesting Ontario dollars in Ontario students who are struggling to pay their own way through school.

Jim Wilson MPP

Jim Wilson is the MPP for Simcoe-Grey and the Ontario PC Critic for Colleges & Universities

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