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Ontario Hansard - 31-March2008
Mr. Rosario Marchese: The question is to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. Minister, last Friday, Judge Lax said it was up to the government to enforce its own rules when it comes to stopping colleges from raising prohibited tuition-related fees. That, I admit, produced a little chuckle, because this is a government that has always been aware that colleges, in particular, and universities were collecting banned fees. In fact, as a backbench MPP, Mr. McGuinty told us in this assembly that turning a blind eye to tuition-related fee increases is like raising tuition through the back door.
Can the minister tell us, when are he and his Premier going to close the back door and enforce the ban?
Hon. John Milloy: I'd like to thank the member for the question and welcome the representatives of various student organizations who are with us today at Queen's Park. I look forward to meeting with a number of them this afternoon and tomorrow.
I'm obviously very aware of the judge's ruling on Friday, but as the honourable member knows, we're now presently in an appeal period, and it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the substance of that judge's ruling.
But I would like to take the opportunity, since the honourable member raises the issue of support for students, to say how proud I am to be part of a government that, through our $6.2-billion Reaching Higher plan, put forward $1.5 billion in support for students. That means that we've doubled our investments in student aid since 2003-04. We're helping 150,000 students per year with financial assistance. We've increased OSAP maximums by 27%--the first time in 12 years.
I find it strange, coming from a party that cut student aid by nearly 50%, cut funding to our post-secondary education institutions and eliminated upfront grants for students.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: I want to say to the minister that pretending the problem does not exist is not an answer. Only the Premier has the power to protect students. The Canadian Federation of Students, who are here today, are looking to McGuinty and to you, Minister, to enforce his government's own rules, which clearly ban these ancillary fees. The minister can either stop colleges and universities from raising these fees and invest the $50 million a year to implement such a policy without hurting the colleges, or his government can continue to ignore its own rules.
If it's the latter, can the minister then explain to Ontario students, what is the point of having rules that you won't follow?
Hon. John Milloy: As I said, the matter is still technically before the court, but I'd like to take this opportunity to talk not only about our Reaching Higher plan but our most recent budget, which contained $465 million over three years for Ontario students, including a $385-million textbook and technology grant and a $27-million distance grant.
One of the groups which I understand is in the lobby today is the College Student Alliance. I'd like to read what they said in their press release on budget day: "The McGuinty government is delivering for Ontario's college and university students in today's budget with improvements to the affordability of post-secondary education, and building a stronger and more prosperous Ontario with a $1.5 billion skills-to-jobs action plan, says the College Student Alliance.
"`College and college/university students welcome the textbook and technology grants that will start to ease the pressures felt by the growing cost of obtaining a post-secondary education'"-
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. New question.
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