Lower fees means lower sense

In Editorial /

By Lee Richardson

Earlier this week was International Caps Lock Day, or, to put it correctly, INTERNATIONAL CAPS LOCK DAY. While not apparent how this holiday could translate into life away from a keyboard – screaming yourself hoarse, I expect – it apparently celebrates the art of typing emotionally.

Speaking of emotions, they are surely flowing freely in Ottawa this week. The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) is in the capital for a few days to lobby the government to help students. Amongst their wishes is the formation of a national educational act, similar to the federal healthcare act we all rely on. Also, somewhat predictably, the old chestnut of student angst that is debt caused by rising tuition fees is being raised, as part of what the CFS is calling a lobby week.

With International Caps Lock day, that is two well-meaning though essentially useless events in the same week.

Harsh, yes, though the banality of the action taken against high tuition fees is self-evident. Banners and chants repeatedly decry fees, which while unfortunate are simply a reality of attending university today.

With public sector jobs seemingly constantly threatened, or already cut as a way to lessen Ontario’s $14.4 billion deficit, the province is striving to save money.

A lot of this weight has been placed directly on the backs of Ontario undergraduate students, who increasingly resemble an open chequebook to those in power.

With the number of university applicants rising and classrooms already straining to fit current students, it realistically is sensible for the government to take advantage of the apparent fact that having a degree is a necessity on par with having a health card or drivers licence.

While high fees in general are rallied against, attention is usually also drawn to the fact that Ontario students are paying higher fees than other provinces. In a recent CFS press release a complaint is highlighted – students pay different fees in different provinces, with “students in Newfoundland and Labrador paying less than one-third of those in Ontario.”

Again, when taking deficits into account this makes sense. Ontario currently owes $14.4 billion, while Newfoundland and Labrador’s deficit clocks in at $258 million. So it’s only understandable that Ontario owes more, therefore making sense that students pay more.

Of course it’s not ideal that young adults are starting their careers with debt, but consider the alternative of a deeper deficit.

That’s why, essentially, there is very little chance that tuition fees will be frozen, reduced or eliminated.

Until Ontario stabilizes its finances, the government will simply block out objections, however emotional, pouring out of the banners, microphones and megaphones this week.

Even if those banners are in all caps.

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