The Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program provide barely enough for individuals and families to pay rent and buy food and minimum wage workers are still earning poverty wages. Ontario has, on average, the highest tuition fees and the lowest per-student funding in Canada, leaving post-secondary graduates with student loans the size of small mortgages upon graduation. Despite our economic challenges, seniors are forced to live in poverty in a country and province as wealthy and prosperous as ours. These pressing social issues are an example of the topics the organizers hope to highlight in the debate.
“Having moved to Ontario from Flint Michigan six years ago, I do not want to see Ontario take the same path as my former hometown,” says Tiffany Balducci, spokesperson for We Are Oshawa. “The purpose of this debate is to ensure issues like poverty and retirement security are addressed by all parties in the upcoming provincial election.”
High tuition fees and student debt are also barriers to accessing post-secondary education for low-to-middle income domestic and international students, says Baker Baha who is a student organizer with Drop Tuition UOIT. “At UOIT, domestic students pay approximately $10,000 a year in fees which restricts access to higher learning for many students and their families. International students pay twice as much and that’s not fair.”