With community college students back in school, Ontario has announced two major compensations for students. While it is a good start, many students will be overlooked.
Following the end of the five-week college strike, the Government of Ontario announced two offers of compensation to community college students: a full tuition refund or $500. Students who do not wish to continue their semester will receive a full tuition refund while full-time students who wish to continue their semester can apply for up to $500 with proof of financial loss.
I do not believe that this amount is sufficient and the eligibility criteria for it too stringent.
International students, for instance, might have been more affected financially than domestic students, as factors like exchange rates, plane tickets and tuition are different than those of domestic students. In addition, some international students might not have the choice to discontinue their semester because of their overseas studies, visas and other factors. The $500 cap could be more flexible, considering some students will need nothing while others will need more - such as those students who live at home and/or work versus those who live by themselves and/or do not work.
Proving financial need when applying for compensation might also pose problems. Students had no warning that they would need to hang on to proof of purchase for travel or accommodation, and they may not have it.
On the other hand, the full tuition refund for students who wish to drop their semester is fair. Students who feel that they did not, and will not, get what they paid for should be able to get their money back.
Colleges should be expected to compensate students for their financial loses during the longest strike in Ontario's history, and their efforts are good, but there could be a more fair distribution of compensation for students who are continuing their semesters.
I propose that the Government of Ontario double the cap for financial compensation from $500 to $1000 - as well as ease the eligibility criteria. As the deadline has now passed for Ontario community college students to pick one for the two aforementioned options - I believe that those full time students who opted to continue with their studies and receive up to $500 - should now be allowed up to an additional $500 ($1000 maximum in total) along with more flexible eligibility criteria and additional time in which to apply for it.