November 10, 2017 7:05 pm

Premier’s staffer allegedly tells St. Lawrence College student to ‘call welfare’ amid OSAP concerns

It's now been one month since college instructors walked off the job. Students are worried about losing their semesters, making it home for Christmas, and how to make ends meet when their OSAP runs out. As Morganne Campbell reports, a St. Lawrence College student got the shock of her life when she was told by the Premier's office to go on welfare.

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A St. Lawrence College student claims she was told to “call welfare” when she contacted Premier Kathleen Wynne’s office about concerns she had regarding second-semester OSAP loans.

“I called to get more of a response than call welfare. You know I went to school to not be on welfare and to benefit myself,” said Amanda Low.

The 21-year-old gave up her job at Subway last year to pursue an education in medical and office administration at the college’s Kingston campus.

READ MORE: Ontario college faculty stage mass picket at Humber College

But now she can’t focus on studying as she’s concerned her OSAP is running out and she has no idea how she’s going to make ends meet.

“We’ve made an agreement with the colleges and the faculty that I pay my tuition in exchange for that I get a certain amount of schooling by a certain date. I’ve paid my tuition, where’s my schooling, where’s my education?”

The advice to “call welfare” seemed to puzzle Premier Kathleen Wynne when questioned about Low’s case during a press conference Friday in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“I don’t know the specifics of this situation but it seems to me there should be a better solution than that,” responded Wynne.

The comment has baffled members of the opposition like Tory MPP Todd Smith who is also Low’s MPP as she resides in the Belleville area.

“To be told they should go get welfare you know, it’s disgusting really,” said Smith.

As for the strike, it’s unknown how long it’ll last for as OPSEU members are being encouraged to turn down the proposed contract during two separate votes next week.

READ MORE: Union calls on striking Ontario college faculty to reject latest contract offer

“It’s down to one issue. One issue and it has to do with academic freedom versus academic control,” said Glen Vollebregt, president of St. Lawrence College.

For cash-strapped students like Low that simply isn’t a good enough answer.

“How am I going pay for school? My motivation to go back to school is completely gone.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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