The Ontario tuition grant was presented at UTM before a critical crowd of students and union representatives days before university students will protest rising tuition fees at Queen’s Park.
University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union protested at the event on Friday morning, displeased that student organizations were not invited.
Deep Saini (UTM vice-president and principal), Glen Murray (Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities) and Harinder Takhar (Ontario Minister of Government Services and MPP for Mississauga-Erindale), discussed eligibility requirements and the benefits of the grant for those students in need. A student, Madison Peters, was selected to make a few remarks about the grant.
UTMSU said that student organizations were left out of the event purposefully to limit discussion.
“There was another student speaking on behalf of all students. I found it distasteful that an invitation wasn’t extended to student groups,” said Gilbert Cassar, the president of UTMSU. “It seems like it was just a photo op, not an opportunity to appeal to students. Students aren’t coming from an ungrateful standpoint, but that does not mean that what was proposed is perfect.”
Walied Khogali, the executive director of UTMSU, sat down with Murray after the event to briefly discuss the groups of students that are ineligible for the grant, namely part-time, mature, and international students.
The province budgeted an estimated $450,000 per year for the grant.
This semester, $800 will be offered to eligible students. Next year, the full amount of $1,600 will be made available.
About 300,000 students meet the requirements: full-time at a public postsecondary institution, less than four years since graduating from high school, in a program that can be applied to directly out of high school, and parents’ gross income of $160,000 or less.
Murray assured the crowd that the Liberal party followed through on their election promise.
“We are keeping our promise to make a real difference in the cost of tuition for undergraduate students and their families,” said Murray. “This grant means that eligible students will enjoy the lowest tuition costs in the past 10 years. We are being fiscally responsible while at the same time making a profound difference for the students and families who need the financial assistance.”
UTMSU and any interested students will head to Queen’s Park on Wednesday after a free breakfast in the Student Centre to take part in the National Day of Action drop fees rally.