The Ontario election is on June 7. The stakes are high for students and workers across the province.
Our rationale for this recommendation is not simply on the basis of a strategic vote against Doug Ford and the PCs who have promised harmful proposals, such as cancelling the minimum wage increase to $15/hour, and finding unidentified “efficiencies” in the Ontario budget, which could very well mean deeper cuts. But we believe that the Ontario NDP’s platform promises significant reforms that will support students and working people.
YUGSA members are strapped with thousands of dollars of crippling debt, accrued in their path to graduate school, and they face high tuition fees throughout their time in the post-secondary education system. The ONDP promises to forgive all student debt owing to the government, and all future OSAP loans will be converted into non-repayable grants. This is a promising path to the ideal future goal of free, accessible post-secondary education for everyone.
For those YUGSA members who are also CUPE members, Horwath has said she would not use back-to-work legislation on CUPE 3903 as it would take away the constitutional right of unionized workers to free collective bargaining. We appreciate that Horwath has said that there needs to be better funding of Ontario’s post-secondary education system, including support for contract faculty becoming full-time professors and instructors, and to invest in more tenure-track faculty positions (details about those promises can be found in OCUFA’s analysis). As opposed to the ONDP, the Liberals and PCs have said that they support back-to-work legislation.
In addition, about 2.2 million Ontarians are struggling without drug coverage, including many graduate students. Horwath’s plan to institute universal pharmacare and dental care will relieve much of the burden of paying for health care, as the wealthiest Ontarians will be asked to pay their fair share of taxes through a series of tax increases on the highest earners.
The ONDP’s platform also promises to keep a $15 minimum wage in January 2019 along with 3 weeks vacation, bring back hydro into public ownership, work on revenue-sharing and better health care for First Nations, rent affordability, $12/day child care, and more.
Electing an NDP government will not fix all of our problems but we know that their promises of investments and expansion of universal public services will benefit the majority of people in Ontario. Instead of struggling against an agenda of more privatization, cuts, and even more severe austerity by the Liberals and PCs, we can push for better public services and programs that we need now.
The ONDP are gaining momentum in the polls and they have a genuine chance of winning the upcoming election. We recommend support for the Ontario NDP in any way possible (i.e., voting, volunteering, etc.) between now and the election.
The YUGSA Executive (Acting)