June 7 is an important day for part-time students like myself, to voice their concerns through their vote in the upcoming 2018 Ontario Provincial Elections.
With all the parties and candidates running, it is crucial to be aware of the promises or goals politicians make while trying to get your vote. Research party and candidate track record (especially when in power) to see if they really hold true to their commitments and advocacy. It is also important to be aware of your own needs and raise concerns to your own regional political candidates no matter what party they align with.
In the years to come, I wish to see the Ontario Government make a commitment to making our education more accessible to all people, especially for mature & part-time, international, and continuing education students. This election season, I will be looking for candidates that are willing to invest more into our education system to make it tuition and barrier-free, so that students, students with disabilities, both domestic and international, can attend school. What this looks like is the inclusion of part-time students in the Ontario Student Grant. This includes better access to grants and supports for students who need accommodations and or have disabilities from not only our campuses, but also from the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). Last but certainly not the least, mental health supports on campuses are not adequate enough for students.
Across the province, there are many other issues that impact post-secondary education like transportation, health care and especially child care for students with families. Part-time students should also consider these issues before voting for a representative on June 7.
After June 7, it is important to still keep our elected representatives accountable for their actions (whether you have voted for them or not).
I encourage folks to meet with or communicate with your elected representative about any ongoing or unaddressed issues that need to be paid attention to.
There are also other ways to work with your local students’ union along with the Canadian Federation of Students on these issues. It's important, but there are many other ways folks can find themselves involved (while having fun) in making our post-secondary education system much more better now, and for the future.
As your Part-time and Continuing Education Caucus Chairperson, I will continue to advocate and have an open ear to our membership's concerns.
See you at the polls!