Why The OSAP Strike at York Is Important

Most students experience struggles in dealing with student debt and being able to afford school. For this very reason, many students avail of the Ontario Student Assistance Program (otherwise known as OSAP) to pay for school fees. The recent OSAP cuts have caused a lot of students to feel a tremendous amount of stress. Since Doug Ford became the Ontario premier, the Ontario government has cut government assistance funds which means that there is less help and more debt. 


On November 6, 2019, York University, along with Ryerson University, held a one day strike to protest the education cuts that have been imposed by the Ford government. York University installed picket lines along Vari Hall to set up the protest. As my first time attending a protest, it was fascinating to see and feel the energy that the students exhibited. If you were not at the York University strike, Global News took coverage of the event (previews are available here). 


Photo via The Star 


Strikes serve as a way for the disenfranchised to show strength over the powerful. The OSAP strike is important to students because the cuts do affect our future. Along with the cuts came the removal of the six month interest-free grace period that was granted to students after graduating. The Ford government also cut tuition by 10 percent and gave students the choice to opt out of ancillary fees. Ancillary fees are extra fees that are imposed by an institution in addition to regular tuition fees. An example would be student activity fees, healthcare and insurance fees. From these examples, the ancillary fees would be very beneficial to students.


Photo via CBC


Our future is important and many students at the strike felt that the Ford government does not appreciate how important it is to fund our education. I spoke to some students at the strike and some said that because of the cuts, they felt that they would have to drop out of school. It is not surprising that students felt that way about school and finances. Students feel that it is unfair to go through so much stress worrying about paying for school, completing assignments and finishing exams simultaneously. It is very important that we, as students, make our voices heard about different issues that surround our community. I believe that protesting is a great way for students to make a statement and to share their concerns to the appropriate institutions. 


I don’t doubt that there will be more protesting involved in the future until students all over Ontario are satisfied with the government's actions towards education and the future of young people. Students will continue to express their concerns to the public and ensure that the government knows how important it is to make sure that the future generation will be able to access higher education.