rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Ontario student debt

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Last week, the CCPA released a paper by David Macdonald and Erika Shaker entitled Under Pressure: The Impact of Rising Tuition Fees on Ontario Families.

The paper does a good job of explaining which households have been most impacted by rising tuition fees in Ontario. Points made in the paper include the following:

- In light of rising levels of household debt, Canadian households are not in the same position to take on new debt today as they were 20 years ago.

- There has been growing income inequality over the past 20 years. Ontario households in the top quintile especially have clearly pulled away from the rest of the pack (even when one considers after-tax income).

- Undergraduate tuition fees in Ontario are now the highest in Canada. In 1990, the average university student in Ontario paid approximately $2,500 in tuition fees (in 2011 dollars). This fall, the figure will be roughly $6,500 (also in 2011 dollars).

- A "middle-income" Ontario family with a household member who graduated from university in 1990 had to dedicate about three months of their after-tax income to pay for the tuition fees. The equivalent for a household member graduating in 2011 would be more than six months. (For households in the lowest quintile, it was nine months in 1990 and would be almost two years today).

- The authors also offer calculations for what they term the "full education burden." This calculation, in addition to including tuition, includes textbooks, tax breaks, living expenses and rent. In 1990, it would have taken 981 days for a household in the lowest quintile to pay "the full education burden" of a university degree (if they were to put all other household expenses on hold for that period). That figure has since risen to 1,268 days. But for households in the highest quintile, the figure has increased from just 135 days to 137 days!

- The authors provide some interesting figures in terms of the affordability of professional degrees. For example, in 1990, it took a household from the lowest quintile 286 days to pay tuition fees for a dentistry degree (again, if they were to dedicate every after-tax cent earned towards the tuition and ancillary fees, and put all other payments -- such as food, rent and utilities -- on hold). Today, it would take that same household 2,410 days to pay for a dentistry degree.

I believe the paper makes an important contribution to the debate around post-secondary education in Ontario, especially with a provincial election on the horizon.

This article was first posted on The Progressive Economics Forum.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.