Student associations asking the Government to reconsider the current structure of the Student Support Fund

Ryan Huckla – President, Niagara College Student Administrative Council (NCSAC). Photo: http://ncsac.ca

Student associations across the province are asking the Government to reconsider the current structure of the Student Support Fund, as the allocated funds are insufficient.

Associations say students are still left in the dark as they attempt to access the Student Support Fund; formerly the “Student Hardship Fund.”

“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,”stated a media release 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 and Student Association George Brown College.

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.”

Student associations say 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?” asks the media release “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 associations say 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.

“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,” stated Ryan Huckla – President, Niagara College Student Administrative Council

“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,” stated the media release.

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,” concluded the media release.

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.

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