By: Brooke Timpson

Brooke Timpson

Wake up and realize that Ontario’s current budget deficit is over $200 billion, Algonquin. After three McGuinty governments, are you better off?

Think long and hard about the last nine years. Are you concerned about finding a job after graduation? Or maybe it’s already time for you to start worrying about how next semester’s tuition is going to be paid?

With one of the slowest growing economies in the country and an education system that seems to be failing our post-secondary graduates, I think it’s time to get a grip and take a serious look at how Ontario’s degrees and diplomas can become more valuable than the frames that currently hold them.

In the next few months, and whether you really like it or not, both Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak, and New Democrat leader Andrea Horwarth, will be major driving forces for change in our province.

Calling for investigations into the previous government, getting MPPs back to work and ensuring that students are able to get jobs are priorities for both opposition leaders.

We can argue policy until the cows come home, but ultimately, I think it’s important to know that both the PCs and the NDP are recognizing a huge need for students to be better educated and prepared for the workforce.

Horwarth and her team are focusing on the rising costs associated with attending college or university. Since the end of the McGuinty Government’s two-year tuition freeze in 2006, college students have seen a 20 per cent increase in their tuition fees. To combat this problem, Horwarth has proposed measures to stop tuition increases and to eliminate student loan interest.

Hudak has pointed out that about 70 per cent of post-secondary students go to university and is focusing on directing students toward college-based programs. Hudak has called for changes in academic attitudes. The goal is simple: students need to be equipped to fill the huge shortages that are currently present in Ontario’s skilled labour and trades industries.

So what does this mean for you, Algonquin?

Between Ontario’s introduction to its newest premier, Kathleen Wynne and resuming business at Queen’s Park, our MPPs have a lot of work to do.

Our province is at a pivotal point for its economic recovery. Health-care, energy and retirement planning are issues that have been left on the backburner for way too long. Add a few scandals from the previous government and you’ll see that Ontario’s future needs a plan. Fast.

With that in mind, I think you will see all sides of the Legislature propose many initiatives and ideas that have the potential to greatly influence the type of education or job you might choose to seek.

Ontario’s changing economic and political landscape should be cause for every student to take even more of an interest in their education, their province and their future.