A Case for Free Post-Secondary Education

By: Paige Galette (CUPE 1281 Treasurer)

Let’s be clear: universal access to education is far from being a reality for students across Canada. Class sizes are on the rise, recent graduates struggle to work countless hours to pay down student debt, and even professors are pushed into increasingly precarious positions as part-time and contract work become the norm everywhere, including on university campuses. Meanwhile, university Presidents benefit the most, as some make 6 figure incomes while exacerbating the corporatization of campus, giving more space to banks and private companies than they do to average students, researchers and members of the academic community.

What has post-secondary education become? The fastest-growing population in Canada, the aboriginal community, still today face constant barriers in accessing post-secondary education. There is inadequate funding and support for Indigenous learners, as the 2% funding cap to the Post-Secondary Support System Program (PSSSP) remains in place. This cap has remained the same in the last 20 years, as Indigenous communities have continued to grow. Furthermore, Métis and Inuit and “non status” Indigenous peoples can’t access their fair share of the minimal funding offered through the program. Where is the justice in that?

Black students on campus continue to fight for the right to learn about their own history, as shown by the scarcity of African studies programs across Canada.

International students often have to pay over three times the tuition fees of a domestic student, while paying an even larger amount for private health coverage, since, in Ontario, they aren’t eligible for public health (OHIP).

Les étudiant.e.s et étudiants francophone se voient privés d’accès à une éducation de langue française, même dans un pays qui se prétend bilingue. La sélection d’institutions pouvant accommoder le nombre d’étudiant.e.s francophone est minime, et il est souvent impossible de terminer son diplôme sans devoir s’inscrire dans des cours en anglais.

On November 2, students from across the country, demanded that their respective provinces work together to reduce barriers to post-secondary education and to once and for all create a country that provides education for everyone: a post-secondary education that is free.

This call to action demands for us, as members of the labour movement, to be militant and vigilant. CUPE 1281 supports the continuous efforts to achieve a post-secondary education that is accessible for everyone and encourages all its members to participate in rallies actions and working groups in their own communities. Now is the time to stand side by side with students in their fight for free education for all!

This article was published in the November 2016 edition of the CUPE 1281 newsletter. Click here for a PDF of the full newsletter or here to browse the website for other articles in the newsletter.