Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Do We Need Tuition Fees in Ontario?

Last fall the Ontario government lifted the tuition fee freeze which students fought hard to secure in 2004. Based on the scheme put in place by McGuinty’s Liberals college and university tuition fees will rise between 20 and 36 percent over the next four years in Ontario.
The mainstream media and political parties have centered the debate about tuition fees on what is a fair price to pay for post-secondary education. Not one source has stopped to ask if people should have to be pay for college and university at all.
Back in the 1940’s, getting a high school education used to be expensive. However, people realized that this was the basic level of education required just to get a halfway decent job, so they got organised to demand fair access.
Today, over 60% of new jobs created require a college or university education. Attending university is becoming more of a necessity than a choice. It is now the basic level of education required to get a job that pays enough to support a family.
Canada is a rich, industrialized country. College and university education here could easily be free for everyone. Much poorer nations provide free college and university education for their citizens at all or some levels, including Argentina, Ireland, Cuba, Venezuela, and France. There is absolutely no reason why people here can’t have the same, other than the lack of political will by the politicians.
Our representatives are totally disconnected from the realities of working people. As the provincial election approaches, we must demand that representatives who want our votes stand up for a liveable minimum wage and free college and university education. We must continue to organize our communities into a political force to demand what we deserve – better opportunities through fair wages and free education.