Student unions raising questions about provincial support fund

The Oxford Street entrance to Fanshawe College's T Building as seen July 19, 2017. (Matthew Trevithick/AM980). Matthew Trevithick/980 CFPL

Student unions from colleges across Ontario, including Fanshawe, are speaking out about the provincial student support fund set up in the wake of the longest college faculty strike in the province’s history.

Some students have had trouble trying to access the Student Support Fund, formerly known as the Student Hardship Fund.

In a statement released yesterday, student union leaders said even though they’ve returned to class, students are still in the dark about accessing the fund and they want the province to reconsider its structure.

The president of Fanshawe’s student union, Morganna Sampson told 980 CFPL the fund, as it is, is not sufficient.

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“The support fund application process creates a barrier to access funds when all students have really experienced hardship during the strike and should be able to get compensation of some sort,” said Sampson.

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“There needs to be a minimum set for students to get an equal refund all across the province because we all experienced hardship, just take away the application entirely and give students a refund.”

The fund was created in November, using money that Ontario colleges saved during the five-week-long strike.

The student unions say they have issues with the amount of cash available in the fund. Conservative estimates suggest colleges province-wide saved roughly $135 million during the strike, but the fund only totals $5 million.

Sampson believes there’s more available.

“I’m really questioning how they came up with the $5-million figure, because there is certainly more than $100 million in gross savings.”

Currently, students who qualify are eligible for up to $500 in compensation to cover incremental expenses caused by the extension of the semesters.

Sampson says they don’t think enough people qualify for the compensation, and it doesn’t acknowledge the financial hardship of students who will suffer lost wages over the holiday break or the over 15 days of lost class time.

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.


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