Tuition Fees

  • $32,370
    Average tuition fees for an international undergraduate student in Ontario
  • $15,700
    Average student debt of a college student
  • $26,800
    Average student debt for an undergraduate student

The Problem

Ontario has the highest tuition fees in Canada. 

The Ontario government created the new Ontario Student Grant (OSG) in 2017 and are calling it “free education”. Is it?

  • Students in professional programs, from families with incomes over $50,000, graduate students and international students all continue to pay the upfront cost of their tuition fees.
  • Out of over 800,000 post-secondary students in Ontario – only about 210,000 have received the OSG.
  • The OSG was created by redirecting 100% of the funds from all previously existing OSAP grants. No new government money was invested to create this grant.
  • Tuition fees still exist, so this is not free education.

The OSG is designed to cover the cost of “average tuition fee rates for an Arts and Science degree”. Students in programs that charge more are on their own to pay the difference. Here is a snapshot of some of those programs:

  • $6,160 – average cost of tuition for an arts and science program in Ontario.
  • $23,413 – tuition fees for Dental Hygiene at George Brown College. Student pays approx. $17, 253 out of pocket.
  • $10,300 – tuition fees for Architecture at Carleton University. Student pays approx. $4, 140 out of pocket.
  • $31,700 – tuition fees for an undergraduate law degree (LLB) at the University of Toronto.  Student pays approx. $25, 540 out of pocket.
  • Graduate students and international students are not eligible for the OSG.

Students Respond

Across our province, the Federation unites students to fight against tuition fee increases, advocate for more government funding and create sustainable solutions to the ballooning student debt crisis.

On November 2, 2017 students across Canada hit the streets to call for free education. In Ontario, the provincial budget presented following our Day of Action included the creation of the OSG.


The Solution

The OSG is based on the flawed assumption that family income should determine how much financial aid a student should receive. Not all families, regardless of income, are in the position to invest money in a student’s education. Yet, if a student’s parents or guardians have an income above what is set out by the OSG, that student may not be eligible for funding, even if they have multiple siblings or their household is in debt.

Education is a fundamental right regardless of race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, political belief, or economic/social condition. Instead of a band-aid solution to an underfunded post-secondary system, we are calling on political parties in this election to commit to:

  • Reducing and eliminating tuition fees for all.
  • Converting loans into grants.
  • Eliminating interest on existing student loans.

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  • 60%
    Students take public transit to school
  • 150%
    Amount that transit fares have increased since 2010
  • $1,200
    Average spending per year on transit fares

The Problem

Students need a transit system that does not break the bank.

  • Students use public transit to commute between class, work, the grocery store, and a variety of other places they need to go in their busy lives.
  • Many students travel between different regions, causing them to pay into multiple transit systems.
  • Skyrocketing tuition fees, increase in precarious work and spikes in the cost of living have made transit less affordable.

In addition to high transit fares, many students struggle with transit inaccessibility.

  • Lack of wheelchair accessible platforms across all systems of transit in the province.
  • Transit routes and timings are inconsistent, impacting students’ busy schedules.
  • Public transit has become unreliable, particularly in Northern Ontario.

Students Respond

From fare reductions to a greater number of routes, Ontario’s students are fighting for a more accessible transit system by pressuring provincial and municipal governing bodies to invest in public transit to keep these systems publicly owned and operated.

The Federation plans to produce a report based on the results of an Ontario transit survey in order to propose alternative solutions to ensure commutes are efficient in getting students from point A to point B.

The Solution

It is time to push the provincial government to support publicly owned and operated transit, affordable fares and accessible infrastructure.

Become a part of these efforts by pressuring political parties to:

  • Increase funding to keep transit public.
  • Subsidize transit fares for students.
  • Consult students and other stakeholders when upgrading and building new transit infrastructure.

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Child Care

  • $7 
    Cost of child care per day in Québec
  • $18 
    Cost of child care per day in Manitoba
  • $40 - $60
    Cost of child care per day in Ontario

The Problem

The current child care system in Ontario has placed a massive financial burden on parents who struggle to find affordable, high-quality child care.

  • Parents in Ontario pay approximately $10,000 to $15,000 per year for child care, per child.
  • In Toronto alone, there are 22,000 children on the wait list for child care subsidies.

Student-parents in particular face many barriers in accessing child care:

  • Child care costs must be paid on top of their own tuition fees.
  • International students, as well as full-time and part-time students, are not eligible for most provincial child care subsidies.
  • Without child care access, student-parents must sometimes choose between attending class and caring for their children.

Students Respond

The Federation works closely with the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC), an advocacy group working to secure funding for universal high-quality, affordable and accessible child care in Ontario. Together with the OCBCC, the Federation advocates for a universal child care system that prioritizes the needs of children, parents and students.

The Solution

We must ensure universal access to affordable child care so that all children have the opportunity to learn and grow in a licensed child care space, while their parents complete their education. By providing child care at an affordable rate, student-parents who attend college or university will be able to study without worrying about securing a safe and accessible space for their children.

In order to do so, students are demanding that political parties commit to:

  • An increase in licensed child care spaces.
  • A childcare system that serves children from childbirth to kindergarten.
  • A significant reduction in child care fees.
  • The inclusion of all students in eligibility criteria for child care subsidies.

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Health Care

  • 5
    Provinces providing public health insurance to international students
  • 65%
    Post-secondary students in Ontario report experiencing overwhelming anxiety
  • X
    Shamefully, there is little to no data about the experiences of trans and gender non-conforming students accessing health services on campuses

The Problem

Students today face unprecedented challenges, such as ever-increasing tuition fees and historic levels of student debt. These challenges impact their physical and mental health.

  • Campus mental health services are experiencing increasing student demands as more and more students are experiencing severe anxiety and depression.
  • Wait times for campus counsellors have increased significantly as student demands increase.

For international students, these challenges are made even more daunting due to the additional barriers they must overcome when trying to access health services.

  • Ontario is one of five provinces that do not include international students under public health care coverage.
  • International students must enrol in private health insurance programs that are not universally accepted by physicians, hospitals and clinics and cost between $600 and $2,000 per year.
  • Due to limited health coverage, international students are more likely to ignore health concerns to avoid the upfront costs of accessing health care.

Trans and gender non-conforming students also face unique and additional barriers when accessing both physical and mental health services.

  • Campus services often lack the knowledge about the realities of trans students, gender non-conforming students or students simply questioning their gender identity.
  • Trans and gender non-conforming students often contend with care providers who are ignorant of their experiences, transphobic and discriminatory.

Students Respond

Students have organized many local and national campaigns to address the struggles of trans and international students in accessing basic health care and the need for fully funded mental health services on campus. The Canadian Federation of Students continues to lobby for international students to be covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), which was the case up until the 1990s, and mandatory diversified mental health first aid training for campus staff to better support students with diverse lived experiences.


The Solution

Students are calling on the provincial government to push campuses to be health-promoting institutions for ALL students. Become a part of these efforts by pushing political parties to:

  • Immediately reintegrate international students into OHIP.
  • Implement campus-wide training on gender for all mental and physical health care providers.
  • Increase funds for campus-run initiatives to improve student mental health and student access to mental health services.

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  • 170,000
    Number of people on the affordable housing waitlist in Ontario
  • 13,600
    Number of people on the affordable housing waitlist in Toronto
  • $1,044 
    Average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Ontario in 2017

The Problem

Ontario is in the midst of a housing crisis.

  • In 2017 the cost of a home increased by nearly 16 % across the province.
  • Rental vacancy rates dropped to the lowest level in nearly two decades.

Students are particularly vulnerable to housing shortages. With limited availability on campuses, landlords in and around campus communities abuse their power by:

  • Placing students in unlicensed rooming spaces.
  • Prematurely terminating their tenancy.
  • Arbitrarily increasing rent.

The inability to secure safe, affordable and accessible housing is an issue that disproportionately impacts marginalized communities, particularly those that are more likely to live below the poverty line, such as people living with disabilities, racialized people, Queer and Trans people and First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.

Students Respond

Across the province, students are pressuring their institutions and the government to deal with the housing crisis through local campaigns and Federation lobbying efforts. At the same time, students are working with coalition partners, such as the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO), to advocate for affordable rental housing and programs to create spaces for low-income households in new developments.


The Solution

Recognizing that housing is a fundamental right and a social determinant of good health, students are calling on the government to invest in affordable housing citing its economic and social benefits to our communities.

Join students across the province as we pressure political parties in this election to commit to:

  • Increased on campus-housing.
  • Public investments in co-operative housing.
  • A landlord licensing structure that requires private landlords to maintain adequate and on-time repairs and respect tenants’ rights.

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Food Security

  • 38%
    Percentage of students at five Canadian campuses who have experienced moderate or severe food insecurity in the last 12 months
  • 10.2%
    Increase in the cost of fresh vegetables in Ontario in 2017
  • $348
    Expected increase in annual food costs for a family of four in 2018

The Problem

Food insecurity refers to having inadequate access to sufficient food due to financial constraints.

  • This impacts nearly 4 million Canadians each year.
  • Canadian students are at risk of experiencing food insecurity while attending post-secondary education due to a lack of money for food.
  • Food insecurity is a serious problem that undermines a student’s academic success. This issue is further reinforced when considering that food offered on campus often does not meet the dietary needs of all students (e.g. not halal or kosher, limited or no vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options).

Food insecurity is connected to poor mental and physical health.

Students who experience food insecurity are more likely than their food-secure counterparts to reduce their schooling to part-time, or drop out of school altogether.

Students Respond

Students across the province feel that tuition fees and the cost of living are the biggest barriers to being able to afford the healthy food they need. In collaboration with Meal Exchange, the Federation works to tackle food insecurity in Canada by empowering students to work with peers and stakeholders to drive this change across the country. Meal Exchange recently released a report on campus food insecurity, which can be found here.

The Solution

Our goal is to work towards a national food system, supported by provincial funds, that allows students to be able to afford the food they need for a healthy lifestyle. Students should not have to choose between paying rent, buying textbooks and going hungry.

To reach this goal, students are demanding that political parties commit to:

  • Pressuring institutions to create emergency funds for students experiencing food insecurity.
  • Standardizing that institutions offer sustainable foods that meet cultural, religious or general dietary needs.
  • Directing funding and support to local and campus food banks.
  • Reducing and eliminating tuition fees.

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Climate Change

  • 81
    Ontario has 81 Drinking Water Advisories in 44 First Nations communities, with 68 of those classified as long-term
  • 75%
    Of mining companies around the world are headquartered in Canada, many of which have reputations for infringing on human and environmental rights
  • $175 billion
    Cost of total damages due to natural disasters in 2016

The Problem

Climate change affects us all.

  • Climate change refers to the change in the distribution of weather patterns over an extended period of time through increased human activity from the burning of fossil fuels (i.e. oil, coal and gas).
  • Recent shifts in the Earth’s weather patterns, resulting in extreme heat, flooding, droughts, violent storms, rising sea levels, smog and habitat loss are already taking a toll on local economies and the environment.
  • In 2016, on a global scale, the cost of total damages due to natural disasters amounted to $175 billion; the highest it has been since 2012.
  • 2016 is also a year that falls within the top 10 costliest years due to natural disasters on record.
  • Heat related mortality could more than double in southern and central Ontario by 2050.

The first communities to be impacted by the effects of climate change are often the most vulnerable.

  • In Canada, First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities contend with unsafe drinking water.
  • In some regions, Indigenous youth in their early 20’s have gone their whole lives without accessible clean drinking water.

Globally, countries that contribute the most to climate change are often the last to feel its effects, while countries contributing the least tend to bear the brunt of environmental changes. This was evident in 2017:

  • Widespread hurricanes and earthquakes across the Central and Southern Americas, the Southern United States and in Asia.
  • Heavy flooding and landslides in Southeast Asia and parts of Northern and Western Africa.
  • Droughts in Somalia and South Africa.
  • Wildfires across North America and Australia.

Students Respond

Student’s concern with climate change is not new and they recognize that to combat climate change we must prioritize widespread government action over individual behaviour changes.

  • For many international students, this concern is further compounded with seeing their home countries suffer from Canadian companies’ resource extraction projects and/or from the effects of climate change.
  • Many students are looking beyond individualized approaches such as changing light bulbs or riding a bicycle.
  • Government must implement stricter environmental regulations on resource extraction companies, both within Canada and globally, and give them harsher penalties when they infringe on human rights or threaten environmental standards.


The Solution

Students and institutions know that to make real progress on climate change, what must be created is the political will and commitment to hold one another accountable at the individual, institutional, provincial, national and international levels.

Become a part of these efforts by pressuring political parties to:

  • Advocate for institutions to reduce its carbon footprint through initiatives such as the creation or retrofitting of buildings to make them LEED compliant, going bottled water free and divesting from fossil fuel companies.
  • Address the drinking water crises in First Nations communities.
  • Commit to stronger regulations against resource extraction companies both in Canada and abroad.

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  • 22,500
    Number of Indigenous students unable to access post-secondary education due to lack of federal government funding
  • 11.3%
    Percentage of the Indigenous population with a university degree; compared to the 29.3% of the non-Indigenous population
  • 9 
    Number of Indigenous-run post-secondary institutions in Ontario, none of which receive public funding

The Problem

Post-secondary education is a treaty right guaranteed by the state of Canada to the First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities of this land.

  • This right is affirmed in the Royal Proclamation of 1763.
  • It is re-affirmed as a constitutional right in the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982.

Despite this being a fundamental right, decades of government underfunding at the federal level has made post-secondary education unattainable for thousands of potential First Nations, Métis and Inuit learners.

In Ontario, the government often engages in a “pass the buck” mentality when confronted with deficiencies in Indigenous education funding, using the excuse that First Nations, Métis and Inuit issues are the sole responsibility of the federal government.

First Nations, Métis and Inuit students who access post-secondary institutions face many barriers and challenges:

  • High levels of racism and discrimination, due to a lack of public education on the history of colonialism in Canada.
  • Limited or no options for culturally appropriate support and mental health services.
  • Courses, curricula and programs are euro-centric and erase the history of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities in Canada.
  • Indigenous students are faced with harassment and violence when engaging in spiritual or cultural ceremonies on campus.
  • Indigenous languages courses are often only offered intermittently and, on many campuses, are not offered beyond an introductory level.

Students Respond

For decades, First Nations, Métis and Inuit students and their allies have been calling on all levels of government to increase funding to close the education gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities and improve the learning experience for Indigenous students.

The Federation’s Circle of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Students is the only formal structure at the national level for First Nations, Métis and Inuit student representation and has been advocating for more funding for Indigenous students since the 1990’s.


The Solution

Students and in particular, Indigenous students, recognize that any reconciliation efforts on behalf of the provincial government must be backed with community consultations, increased funds and greater access to resources to make Ontario a leader in Indigenous education.

Students are demanding that political parties in this election commit to an Indigenous Education Strategy based on community needs. This includes:

  • An increase in First Nations, Métis and Inuit studies programs.
  • An increase in and wider availability of course selections in Indigenous languages.
  • An increase in the hiring of First Nations, Métis and Inuit faculty members across ALL programs and faculties.
  • Cultural sensitivity training provided to all college and university faculty and administration.
  • Pressure administrations to adopt the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Report.

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  • $3.4 trillion
    Over 500 institutions valued at $3.4 trillion have committed to divestment globally
  • 37
    Active divestment groups on college and university campuses across the country
  • 12
    Successful student campaigns in support of divestment in Canada

The Problem

Colleges and universities are substantial investors and together hold a collective power as they invest in corporations around the world.

  • Post-secondary institutions often receive large private donations that are placed in what is referred to as an endowment.
  • This is essentially a school’s savings account.
  • In some institutions, if they can afford to do so, portions of student tuition fees are also placed in this account.
  • The endowment is then invested into funds, corporations and companies, with the dual goal of growing the principal endowment while generating new income.

Investments become political decisions when the receiving party is involved in environmental destruction or the infringement of human rights.

  • Unfortunately, many college and university investments send funds to companies and corporations that engage in a range of unethical behaviours such as harmful resource extraction projects that contribute to climate change or complicity in illegal military occupations and other violations of international law.
  • Ontario’s institutions often invest in fossil fuel extraction companies such as Shell, Enbridge or Kinder Morgan and corporations involved in military conflicts and occupations around the world, like Motorola and BAE Systems.

Students Respond

Over the years, many students’ unions have been lobbying administrations to divest from these unethical investments.

  • Divestment campaigns push institutions to be mindful of what companies they put students’ tuition money towards.
  • In funding corporations such as Enbridge, an energy and oil giant or Motorola, a company whose technology is used by armed forces around the world, institutions are complicit in ongoing projects that destroy stolen Indigenous land and communities, commit human rights violations and support exploitative labour practices.

Calls for divestment are often accompanied with a call for the creation of Ethical Investment Policies for the college or university.

  • These policies act as a framework that institutions can follow to ensure any investments do not infringe on human rights or contribute to the growing crisis of climate change.
  • This dual approach – divestment and ethical investment – creates long-term change in regards to the future investments of an institution.


The Solution

Across the province, students are pressuring their institutions through divestment campaigns to promote safer and more sustainable environments for the future. Become a part of these efforts by pushing political parties in this election to support:

  • The creation of ethical investment policies on all college and university campuses across the province.
  • Immediate divestment from corporations and organizations that contribute to human rights abuses and violations and/or climate change around the world.
  • Inclusion of student representatives on boards of governance, committees and any decision-making bodies that have power over student monies.

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Workers' Rights

  • 11%
    Ontario employees who will not receive the $15 minimum wage increase by 2019
  • 9
    In 1991 a student could work 9 weeks at minimum wage in Ontario to cover the average cost of their tuition
  • 21
    Today an Ontario student must work 21 full-time workweeks to cover the average cost of their tuition

The Problem

A decent, well-paying job with worker protections is hard to come by in Ontario for anyone looking to secure employment. Finding a job and an employer who is accommodating and flexible with student workers is rare.

Students across the province rely on part-time, seasonal and sometimes full-time work to help offset the cost of their education. A major issue is caused due to longstanding gaps in the Ontario Employment Standards Act (ESA) that fail to ensure fair scheduling.

  • There are no provisions in the ESA that require schedules be provided in advance.
  • Employers often expect casual and part-time workers to be available at all times, yet only schedule them for two or three shifts at a time.
  • Many workers, including students, receive their schedules at the last minute and at different times every week.
  • Workers can also be scheduled as “on-call” with the expectation that they will be ready to work at a moment’s notice.
  • Many students are punished by employers for not being available during midterms and exam periods, and have very little input in the timing of their shifts.

Ontario is also currently the only province with a subminimum wage for students under the age of 18 and servers.

  • The subminimum wage for servers ignores the fact that work in the service industry is precarious (e.g. often no guaranteed shifts, sick days or vacation), tips are erratic, and busy or slow seasons factor into how much servers make.
  • Students under the age of 18 get paid less for doing the exact same work as their 19-years or older counterparts.
  • The devaluation of young workers’ labour creates more generalized downward pressure on wages for younger workers and new entrants to the labour market.

Students Respond

Students and workers have a long history of working together to protect workers’ rights. This solidarity led to the recent victory of a new $15 minimum wage in 2017.

Unfortunately, the work is not done as not everyone will benefit from the increase to a $15 minimum wage due to certain types of workers being submitted to subminimum wages.


The Solution

It is time to push the government to end the devaluation of student labour. Become a part of these efforts by demanding that political parties in this election:

  • Support the elimination of a sub-minimum wage.
  • Implement provisions within the Employment Standards Act to require fixed scheduling.
  • Enforce the $15 minimum wage increase with all employers in Ontario.

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French-Language Education

  • 622,340
    Francophones in Ontario, the second largest francophone population outside of Québec
  • 80,000
    French-speaking immigrants in Ontario
  • 6/46
    Number of bilingual post-secondary institutions in Ontario

The Problem

Francophone students face unique challenges when accessing post-secondary education in the French language:

  • Francophone students are more likely to leave their home communities in order to attend the limited French or bilingual institutions in Ontario.
  • On bilingual campuses, many French courses use English textbooks and resources.
  • Courses taught in French are offered at a lesser rate than English courses. Francophone students must choose between taking mandatory courses in English or extending their education.
  • Co-op and placement opportunities are not always offered in French.

For francophone international students, many of these barriers are compounded with the already-difficult experiences of being an international student in a new country, studying away from home, paying triple the tuition fees of domestic students and having no access to provincial health coverage.

Students Respond

The government of Ontario has announced a new French Language University to be opened in Toronto in 2020, however, this is only a small step towards fixing a much larger problem.

  • The announcement of a new French Language University was well received, however bilingual and francophone students in particular fear that this new institution may pull funding from current bilingual institutions in the province.
  • Students continue to advocate for the government to increase the number of available French language institutions across Ontario.

The Solution

Students are calling on political parties in this upcoming election to commit to improving the quality and diversity of French language education, specifically by:

  • Allocating new funds to expand the options of post-secondary institutions, programs, courses and classroom resources available to Francophone and bilingual students.
  • Increasing and improving support services for francophone international students.
  • Increasing the number of French-speaking faculty and administration on bilingual campuses.

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Quality Education

  • $7,692
    Per Student Funding in Ontario VS
    in the rest of Canada 
  • 31:1
    Student-Faculty Ratio in Ontario
    in the rest of Canada

The Problem

Declining levels of public funding for post-secondary education weakens the quality of education in our province and hurts Ontario students.

  • Ontario post-secondary institutions are no longer public institutions, as government funds account for less than 50% of their operating budgets.
  • Ontario has the highest tuition fees in the country.
  • Ontario students carry the greatest amount of student debt in the country.

The working conditions of faculty instructors and institutional staff are the learning conditions of students.

  • Professors and course instructors must contend with increasing class sizes without increases in faculty staffing.
  • Many full-time positions for university and college faculty and staff are being cut, limiting students’ ability to receive the services and quality of post-secondary education they deserve.
  • Overworked and underpaid conditions for college and university staff and faculty impact campus workers’ mental and physical health while compromising students’ academic success.

Students Respond

For over 30 years, students across the province have been fighting for affordable, accessible and high quality post-secondary education.

The Federation brings student representatives from across the province to Toronto every year where they meet with Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) at Queen’s Park. During this time representatives present the Federation’s pre-budget submission to individual MPPs in advance of the provincial budget.


The Solution

Post-secondary institutions provide an essential service in today’s economy, creating spaces for learning and innovation and offer pathways for personal development. Rather than continuously increasing student fees year after year and providing short term funding solutions to a chronically underfunded post-secondary education system, political parties in this election must commit to:

  • Providing institutions with robust and consistent financial support.
  • Addressing increased student enrolment.
  • Ending inactive full-time faculty hiring.

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