Canadian students set to strike over high tuition rates and exclusivity

Posters from an All Out rally / instagram.com/cfsfcee

Are you tired of high tuition prices and collecting debt? On November 2 you can join thousands of other Canadian students in a nation-wide protest against unfair tuition rates and the unfortunately privileged nature of post-secondary education. Organized by the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), All Out Nov. 2 was created in order to raise awareness and “demand universal access to education, education justice and public education for the public good.”

All Out Nov. 2 is classified as a ‘student day of action’ with the entire premise of the movement condoning skipping classes and, if you can, attending one of the many rallies that are being held around Canada. Most of which are located around major cities and some universities. Toronto has five gatherings, four of which are organized by the university chapters of the CFS organization. However, if you’re unable to go, skipping school is still recommended as a means of enforcing the message and supporting the event.

There are a lot of issues with post-secondary education in Canada and most of them are completely changeable if the opportunity is presented. According to the CFS website, the three main focuses of the event are ‘universal access,’ ‘education justice’ and ‘public education.’

Their most prominent purpose is to advocate for lower tuition, which I wholeheartedly support. However, I think their focus on education justice and public education is their more important point of action.

Canada is generally known for being incredibly inclusive with our almost stereotypical desire to have everyone included, but that whole idea is close to being thrown out the door when it comes to the exclusive prerequisites for post-secondary education.

While many people just need to get 80 per cent in most of their classes to get accepted, there are large groups of people, according to Statistics Canada, who are almost completely cut from having access to a university or college education.

Indigenous, racialized, queer and transgender, people with disabilities, people raised in single-parent homes and people from low-income families can sadly be placed in a subgroup of those who have to battle against a society for inclusion. That battle shouldn’t include the access to higher education. CFS’s support of minorities allows the unheard voices of the public schooling systems to finally be heard. As stated on their website and in promotional event videos, “education is a pathway to liberation.”

Even with some aid, such as help from the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) and Canada Student Loans offered by the Canadian Government, having enough to pay tuition can completely drain a family’s bank account, let alone a person trying to make it through by themselves. It leaves very little for the rest of the necessities that people need in life.

There’s so much the government is able to do. The restriction guidelines are very specific but slowly they are starting to change. In a press release published October 30, Employment and Social Development Canada declared that as of Nov. 1 Canadians will not have to repay their Canada Student Loan “until they’re earning at least $25,000 a year.” However, there are  still some restrictions with programs like OSAP that make people who struggle to get through their post-secondary stage in life unable to apply due to family income problems (ie. parents earn too much income, but the person applying isn’t being financially supported by their parents).

With the way the economy and society is currently going, all these jokes are circulating the internet about how millennials won’t be able to buy houses and move out on their own by the time they are able to finish school and find a job. It’s really awful sounding, but these aren’t jokes anymore. Everything costs so much and everything involves a lot of spending.

With All Out Nov. 2, people should not take the matter as a joke. Rather, it’s time the government responds and takes action to make things right. We shouldn’t have to struggle to get post-secondary education. For more information about the Canadian Federation of Students and All Out Nov. 2 (and a list of events happening that day and locations), visit cfs-fcee.ca and consider taking the pledge and sign the petition to endorse change.

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