Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Industry Voice: OACC Celebrates TCC Victory

OACC Industry Voice

The TTC pass was only available to full and part-time students at public colleges and universities.

A roar of applause and cheers could be heard down the hall when TTC Commissioners voted in favour of including registered private career college (PCC) students for the post-secondary student Metropass.

“Our association welcomes this important policy change by the Commission that fully supports the equitable treatment of all post-secondary students,” said Paul Kitchin, Executive Director, Ontario Association of Career Colleges (OACC).

The pass, launched in September 2010, was previously only available to full and part-time students at public colleges and universities.

The OACC first presented its case, one of unfair treatment and discrimination, to the TTC Commission in September. Commissioners voted to defer the subject and asked TTC staff to prepare a report on the costs and implications of including PCC students. OACC provided TTC staff with lists of registered private career colleges, as well as enrolment figures to assist in the report.

At the December 15 meeting the newly appointed TTC commission went against the staff recommendation and voted to extend eligibility for the discounted $99 Post-Secondary Student Metropass program to 15,000 full-time students at private career colleges in Toronto.

This victory comes after months of hard work by PCC students, OACC staff and the association’s Board of Directors. OACC President Peter Dykstra and two students presented at the September 30 meeting, while deputations were heard from OACC Vice-President George Hood, Consultant John Nunziata and three career college students.

Hood and Nunziata spoke about the issue as a matter of fairness – citing support for equality in letter from the Honourable John Milloy, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, in which he said “The [MTCU] regards all students attending postsecondary institutions in Ontario, including registered private career colleges, as valued members of the postsecondary community.”

Shortly before the meeting, a large crowd of career college students and staff gathered in front of Toronto City Hall to garner support, chanting “Be Fair With The Fare.” Students filled the meeting room showing silent support by wearing buttons embossed with the slogan.

Commission Vice Chair Peter Milczyn put forward the motion that the eligibility criteria be amended to include post-secondary students enrolled full-time in programs offered at private career colleges registered under the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005.
Milcyzn followed his motion by saying “Clearly, to me, it’s an equality issue.”

Commissioner Norm Kelly voted in favour of the motion, and said “Anything we can do to help these people… should be done.”

“I am still trying to process everything that happened,” said Everest College student Justin Potvin, one of three students who spoke on behalf of the 15,000 PCC students in Toronto, “it’s good to be able to breathe a sigh of relief as well.”

Potvin spoke to the Commission about what the monthly savings compared to the adult Metropass would mean to him. Although, he said, it doesn’t sound like a lot of money, it means students like him would be able to afford textbooks, food and other necessities.
OACC represents over 250 private career colleges in Ontario, and the majority of PCCs in the city of Toronto. With no formal federation for PCC students, OACC took on the effort to fight for Metropass equality. Students attending registered private career colleges in the City of Toronto will be eligible for the post-secondary student Metropass beginning February 1, 2011.

Author: OACC
The Ontario Association of Career Colleges is a non-profit organization established in 1973. The Association's purpose is to ensure that private career colleges have a provincial voice in Ontario.
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