Liberals hope to keep their promises
The outcome of last Thursday’s provincial election will have a great impact on middle-class students looking for extra help with tuition costs. Yes, OSAP students, that means you.
That is if what the Liberals proposed in their platform, a 30 per cent tuition grant to students whose parents make less than 160,000 a year, goes through parliament smoothly.
Kitchener-Waterloo Liberal representative Eric Davis and recently re-elected Progressive Conservative MPP Elizabeth Witmer both have different ideas as to how Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal minority government will affect the province and prioritize the Liberal tuition grant.
Davis sees his minority as unusual and unpredictable because it is only one seat short of a majority government.
As for McGuinty and how he’ll work with other parties, Davis stated his confidence in describing the “Liberal party as a party of centre, compromise and pragmatism.” He went on to explain that this Liberal government’s stability is stronger because they do not make decisions based specifically on ideology and will be able to pass legislature more efficiently.
Davis sees it as a matter of choosing his cabinet efficiently in order to give students what they asked for, “As soon as January.”
Only lacking in one seat guarantees that at least one member of the opposition will have to be in favour of a tuition reduction.
Witmer, meanwhile sees the minority as a positive because it will give the house an opportunity to “reflect the will of the people in the province.”
Hopeful that McGuinty will keep his word on lowering the cost of tuition for students, Witmer sees other issues that must be dealt with before spending on the grant.
“The first thing [McGuinty] has to do is get an accurate deficit number…. in the province of Ontario before committing to reducing the cost of tuition for students,” she said.
Witmer also sees what happens to students after they graduate as a large issue that the Liberal platform has overlooked. She expressed herself as concerned about the unemployment rate at 15 per cent and post-secondary graduates having to “move back home … and incur more debt,” whether incurring debt is due to another tax hike from McGuinty or from higher education.
On asking the student population whether they would rather a 30 per cent reduction in tuition now or for the PC to fight to lower our debt and post-graduate unemployment (currently at 15 per cent) they were split.
Third-year Wilfrid Laurier University sociology student Cheyanne McGillicuddy-Richardson told The Cord, “A Liberal tuition break because it seems plausible, the Conservatives fighting to get employment up seems too far fetched.”
On the other hand, Derek Davies, a third-year environmental studies student at Laurier would “rather have the Conservatives fight to lower post-graduate unemployment because it would probably take two years to do either so I won’t see the decrease of 30 percent. So, I’d rather have them fighting to find me a job by then.” In the end, according to Witmer, both representatives have the same goal.
“All parties will need to work together, put the people first, and make sure that we govern in a way that will be in their best interest,” she said.