Event draws limited student participation
On Oct. 23, representatives from the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) – Ontario, the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) – Ontario, and McMaster faculty member, Peter Graefe, all spoke out against the purposed changes to the sector. Also on the panel was NDP politician, Theresa Armstrong who is the NDP critic for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and University (MTCU).
The panel was organized by the NDP Riding Associations of Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale and Hamilton Centre. The event was attended by approximately 40 people.
Janice Folk-Dawson, Chair of the Ontario University Workers Coordination Committee of CUPE- Ontario criticized the Ministry’s plans and called “for the establishment of a true consultation process with wide ranging discussions including chronic underfunding to post-secondary institutions and a discussion of tuition and auxiliary fees.”
Peter Graefe, a Political Science professor, criticized the three semester a year plan stating, “As much as people think I’m at home sunbathing myself during those [summer] months, I’m here most days involved in work related to research.”
He also addressed the Ministry’s suggestion about three-year degrees, and said, “Three year degrees, is there a demand for that? We have been seeing three year degrees shut down across the province for a lack of demand for a variety of reasons.”
“When we talk about scarce public resources we have to realise that it is a myth, the income tax for people making over 500,000 dollars was introduced and next thing you know we got an extra 500 million in revenue” said Mike Yam, CFS-Ontario researcher.
“I know a lot of labour unions and progressive economists talk about reversing corporate tax cuts; for sure if they were back to 2009 levels we’d have an extra two billion plus dollars in government coffers that could provide for all undergraduates in Ontario to go to school for free.”
Theresa Armstrong, the NDP Critic for MTCU, gave a uniformly scripted speech, which provided little insight into the Ontario New Democrat’s plans outside of re-stating their election promises.
Dan Fahey, a third-year Integrated Science student, felt upset with the lack of a comprehensive vision presented by the NDP stating that he, “felt underwhelmed by Theresa Armstrong’s performance, when the stakes are so high with the attack to education that we are facing.”
“I thought Mike Yam said the right things. That we need to build solidarity between students and staff on campus and it’s going to take a lot of work.”