If we talked about Ontario public schools last week, then it should follow that we talk about Ontario post-secondary issues this week. The pandemic generation, if we can coin such a phrase, are coming of age, and they’re bringing with them the scars and accomplishments of surviving the experience, but are they feeling seen in this provincial election? We’re going to ask one of their representatives.
Let’s consider the last four years for post-secondary students in Ontario: Pre-pandemic there were the usual concerns about increasing tuition fees, a renewed push for action on climate change, and a burgeoning mental health crisis (see this piece on Narcity). Then there was the Student Choice Initiative, which allowed students to opt out of funding a long list of campus groups from student governments to the student press to student clubs.
The court would later decide that the Student Choice Initiative was unconstitutional, but by the time the Ontario government finally abandoned the matter, there were other, bigger fish to fry. COVID-19 not only created new challenges for post-secondary students, it exacerbated the old problems, things like housing, mental health, cost of living, food insecurity, and the cost of education itself. Students’ interests reflect a wide diversity of issues, so let’s talk to someone who knows students.
This week on the podcast, we’re joined by Mitra Yakubi, the recently elected chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students – Ontario. She will talk about why it feels like students are being ignored on the campaign trail, and why climate change is the most important issue for students this election. She also discusses the resiliency and mental health challenges of young people during and after COVID-19, and how food insecurity may be the underappreciated issue of the campaign.
So let’s talk about student life on this edition of the Guelph Politicast!
You can learn more about the Canadian Federation of Students – Ontario at their website. You can also follow the CFS’ advocacy efforts on their social media feed @CFSON, and by following the hashtag #DemandOutFuture.
If you’re interested in hearing from the candidates, we’re hosting all the Guelph candidates over the next couple of weeks on Open Sources Guelph, and we will also be hosting the candidates in the riding next door in the Wellington-Halton Hills Politicast on Saturdays.
Also, when you subscribe to the Guelph Politicast channel and you will also get an episode of Open Sources Guelph every Monday, and an episode of End Credits every Friday.
Image from Queen’s Park student protest in March 2019 courtesy of Eli Ridder.