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.

Should an Ontario university degree be a debt sentence?

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

Source: Tuition in Canada, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Retrieved fr

Right now, post-secondary students across Ontario are finishing up their studies for the year and heading off to summer jobs -- if they have been lucky enough to land one.

New research from the CCPA demonstrates just how difficult it is to save up for tuition fees every year.

Ontario's students face the highest average tuition in Canada, paying on average $7,259/year in tuition. Saskatchewan is next in line at $6,394. Newfoundland and Labrador has the lowest average tuition fees at $2,644.

Not only is Ontario tuition the highest in the country, students across the country, Ontario included, must work far longer to pay tuition than students did in the past.

Students attending a post-secondary institution in Ontario in the 1972-73 school year would have had to work 359 hours at a minimum-wage job to pay for their tuition -- that's less than 9 weeks. That left students with a few weeks to earn money to pay for living expenses and incidentals during the school year.

In contrast, by 2013-14, students in Ontario had to work 708 hours at a minimum wage job just to pay tuition.

That means that students have to work the entire summer (18 weeks of full-time work) just to pay tuition. In other words, at minimum wage they can't possibly earn enough to pay for food, rent, books or extracurricular activities, let alone earning enough money to pay for living expenses they may need to incur while they are working during the summer.

Source: Tuition in Canada, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Retrieved from: apps.policyalternatives.ca

It's a dramatic change that took hold in the mid-'90s when the average number of minimum wage hours needed to pay tuition increased dramatically -- as a result of both a frozen minimum wage and rapidly rising tuition fees.

Furthermore, Ontarians aged 15-24 faced an unemployment rate of 15.7 per cent in March 2014. That's the highest rate across the country outside of the Maritimes. It's also higher than the U.S. rate, which sat at 14.5 per cent in March 2014.

Taken together, it paints a pretty grim picture for Ontario's young people. High unemployment and high tuition fees combined are saddling graduates with growing levels of student debt that make it difficult to take life's next steps including purchasing a home, starting a family or even simply moving out on one's own. It's a looming crisis that continues to mount with no signs of relief.

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.


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:


  • 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.


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