Students rally to lower tuition fees at a Ryerson Students' Union Freeze the Fees events. (Marija Petrovic, Ryersonian Staff)

Students rally to lower tuition fees at a Ryerson Students’ Union “Freeze the Fees” event. (File Image, Marija Petrovic, Ryersonian Staff)

Ontario post-secondary students are still paying the highest tuition costs across Canada, according to a Statistics Canada report released last week.

Full-time Ontario undergraduates are paying an average of $8,114 in tuition this year, according to the report. Fees in the province are up more than three per cent from the 2015-2016 academic year, and far exceed the national average of $6,373.

Feeling the pinch

Rajean Hoilett, Ontario chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students, described this year’s tuition increase and the province’s lofty fees as “demoralizing” for students.

Graduate students are also feeling the pinch. Ontario graduate students are paying $9,416, while the average national graduate tuition fee jumped more than two per cent from last year to $6,703.

“[Students] are hearing governments that promote free education, and wondering when it’s going to [benefit] them,” said Hoilett. “Then they see this report.”

Trudeau government grant

The Ontario government offered a 30 per cent off tuition grant for the 2016-2017 academic year. Additionally, low to middle income students will receive free tuition through the Ontario Student Grant beginning in 2017-2018.

In its first federal budget last March, the Trudeau government pledged grants amounting to $1.53 billion over the next five years and $329 million each subsequent year.

First year acting student Ivy Watson chose to study at Ryerson for its location and said it’s the best city for networking. However, her decision has come at a high price.

Watson pays for her tuition, rent and food herself, but can’t find a job. “I’m an art student, so every class is based on attendance. So I can’t skip to go to work or adjust my schedule for work because everything is pre-decided,” she said.

The CFS is calling for a national student day of action on Nov. 2 through the campaign Fight the Fees. The Ryerson Students’ Union has not announced any strategies to tackle increasing tuition fees.

Olivia Chandler is a Master of Journalism candidate at Ryerson. She is a news reporter at the Ryersonian and works as an Editorial Assistant for CBC News Network. Her interests include politics, fashion and the environment.

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