because the student voice
is not a choice

Making sure the student voice is heard

The government’s recent changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) are disappointing, to say the least for students and families. While we support the government’s goal in making postsecondary education more affordable in Ontario, the announced changes raise red flags for students, families and anyone interested in the province’s ability to stay competitive in years to come. We firmly believe it lacked proper consultation with students.

Students universally feel that this decision is a firm step backwards.

This government’s objective was trumpeted as “providing financial assistance to those who need it most,” which is why we were shocked when the policy reflected the exact opposite. Students have seen a direct reduction in grant-based funding at every income level.

The changes to OSAP move away from non-repayable grants in favour of loans. This will have the immediate impact of forcing middle and low-income families to take on a bigger debt load, meaning only the richest families will see savings from a cut in tuition. To compound our concerns around loans versus grants, a decision to end the six-month interest-free grace period on student loans after graduation will cause deeper problems. In sum, these changes mean students will be forced to take on more loans and interest will start accumulating in the months they should have been afforded a grace period to secure employment.

Yet beyond our collective concerns on OSAP, we want to express our collective opposition to a precedent this government is setting surrounding student union fees in Ontario, dubbed the Student Choice Initiative. This initiative threatens the existence of our organizations. The Minister’s announcement that many ancillary fees at Colleges and Universities—including the general membership fees that provide operating revenues to most student organizations—was shocking, disheartening and quite frankly, insulting. If implemented, it threatens the very existence of organizations such as ours, leading to the elimination of the many essential services—academic and non-academic—that we provide to students, student-athletes and graduates. In many—most—cases, these are services that the administrations of Colleges do not and cannot provide on their own, and we have stepped in to fill that void.

Student democracy on campus is essential and that’s where CSI as a governing body steps in. We represent and advocate on behalf of the students and are a loud voice in their efforts to ensure accountability and consideration from the federal, provincial, municipal governments and in individual educational institutes.

If you use any, some or all of our services we provide, and you voted for your student electives and would like to continue to support the student government process, then please help us in spreading the word in our partial opposition towards the Student Choice Initiative by signing the letter of support. Help us advocate that Student Association membership fees are considered essential! Upon submission of this letter, it will be sent to:

  • MPP for Kanata-Carleton Merrilee Fullerton
  • MPP of Kitchener-South Hespeler Amy Fee
  • MPP of Cambridge Belinda Karahalios
  • MPP Kitchener Conestoga Mike Harris
  • MPP of Kitchener Centre Laura Mae Lindo
  • MPP of Waterloo Catherine Fife
  • MPP of Guelph Mike Schreiner
  • MPP of Brantford-Brant Will Bouma
  • Conestoga College President John Tibbits
  • CTV News Kitchener

Stop the cuts to OSAP!

To the legislative assembly of Ontario:

  • Whereas Ontario has the highest tuition rate in Canada, lowest per-student funding and highest student debt, and the government’s changes, including a $2 billion cut to OSAP grants, will only make the situation worse;
  • Whereas Ontario has the highest debt burden among students in Canada, with students holding an average debt of $27,000;
  • Whereas removing the interest-free six-month grace period means students are pressured to pay their loans as soon as they graduate, before they even start their career;
  • Whereas increasing the loans to grants ratio to 50% means less access to postsecondary education, which is crucial to gain the skills needed to succeed in tomorrow’s workforce;
  • Whereas adding an opt-out to student fees will adversely affect student unions, campus groups, and clubs;
  • Therefore we the undersigned petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to direct the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities to reverse the announced cuts to OSAP, protect existing tuition grants, and reinstate the six-month interest-free grace period on loans after graduation.

Sign the petition to show your support.

To keep updated, please fill in your email and/or phone number. This portion of the petition will be detached and kept confidential and not shared with the provincial government or any other parties.

Petition submissions are sent to Catherine Fife, MPP for Waterloo.

Send a letter of advocacy:

I, {:1}, in the {:3} program at Conestoga College am writing this in opposition of the Student Choice Initiative announced by Minister Fullerton on January 17th, 2019.

The withdrawal of funding, which could result from “fee opt-outs” under the Student Choice Initiative, would clearly and disastrously “restrict a student governing body from carrying on its normal activities”. A recognition and right to exist is meaningless if Conestoga Students Inc. (CSI) has constrained -or no- financial wherewithal to provide services.

CSI provides students with several services and functions of our governmental not-for-profit corporation. Through managing several college facilities, employing several hundred students in part-time jobs, liaising with the college on issues affecting students and so much more, CSI is essential to the student experience.


I, {:1} acknowledge that I support this letter in opposition of the Student Choice Initiative, which, if implemented, will impact and irreparably damage my post-secondary experience.

  • How CSI has been essential to me: (Optional)

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Submitted letters of advocacy:

Thanks for your support, Condors!


CSI is a champion for student well-being at Conestoga. Collaboration with CSI has strengthened our services. They are invested in building a community that cares about the student experience and reduces barriers to success.

Bonnie Lipton-Bos, Director of Student Success Services

I think CSI is essential because it provides so many services to support students. As a part-time staff member for CSI, it helps me pay for my tuition, groceries and rent! I am also a club member which has allowed me to make new friends, learn from others and become more engaged with the college.

Breanne Henderson, Student

As the voice of the over 16,000 full time Conestoga students, CSI provides essential services, representation and experiential activities that enable our students to have a valuable and memorable post-secondary experience. The CSI team always has the best interests of our students in mind, and is motivated to develop new and effective support systems to assist in navigating the on and off campus college experience.

Andrew Bates, Manager Athletics and Recreation

This is my third year at Conestoga and my second year working with CSI. CSI is essential because without it so many students, including myself, would have trouble making ends meet without being employed with CSI. Students may not realize all the services CSI has to offer, such as the lounge spaces throughout the school, and Service Hub. CSI is for the students. They have the students in mind!

Danielle McNabb, Student

As a previous student of Conestoga College and now a full-time employee in the Security Department, over the years, CSI has provided many useful services and has especially supported Security with what we believe to be a very important free service offered, our RAD Self-Defense program.

Desiree Boland, Security Representative

We want to hear from you!

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