Ford advocates for exclusively Ontario students in schools

Ontario Premier Doug Ford recently expressed a desire for the province’s post-secondary schools, especially medical schools, to prioritize Ontario students over international applicants. Ford pointed out that currently, about 18% of students in these institutions are from abroad and suggested this percentage should be reduced to zero to prioritize local students.

During an announcement for a new medical school at York University, Ford remarked, “I’m not being mean, but I’m taking care of our students, our kids first.” He further emphasized the need for Ontario students to fill these educational spots, responding to concerns about Ontario students studying overseas and not returning.

Clarification from Ford’s office later stated that his comments were specifically targeting medical school admissions, aiming to reserve these spots for students from Ontario.

Criticism followed Ford’s statements, with NDP Leader Marit Stiles denouncing them as disrespectful to foreign students and internationally trained physicians awaiting residency in Ontario. The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change also condemned the remarks, accusing Ford of exacerbating anti-migrant sentiments and overlooking the contributions of migrants in Ontario.

These comments arrive amid a broader discussion about the increasing number of international students at Ontario post-secondary institutions, a trend partly driven by financial strategies to compensate for government funding cuts. In 2019, Ford’s administration reduced tuition fees by 10% and imposed a freeze, which has been extended despite a $1.3-billion funding boost to institutions still struggling with deficits.

The federal government’s recent decision to halve the issuance of international student permits, with Ontario’s allocation significantly reduced, adds another layer of complexity. The province plans to allocate its fewer permits to programs in high demand, excluding private career colleges.

This development reflects broader challenges in Ontario’s education sector, including a projected $3 billion revenue loss from international students in the college sector over the next two years, as reported in Ontario’s recent budget.–News Desk