The provincial government will not require Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan repayments for six months beginning on March 30, and loans will also not accrue interest during this time. The announcement comes with the Ontario government’s $17 billion action plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of the $17 billion, $10 billion has been allocated to directly support people and jobs, while the remaining $7 billion will go toward supporting the healthcare system.
In a press release, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) commended the action plan, but noted that in a previous open letter to the Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano, they had advocated for a two-year interest-free grace period for students graduating in 2020.
“While we will continue to advocate for this grace period, the moratorium is a good first step towards alleviating some of the difficulties graduates will experience when repaying their OSAP loans,” reads the OUSA press release.
Their press release also asked for some of the billion-dollar contingency fund to be allocated toward mental health support for students during this time.
The government is also offering direct financial assistance through its Employment Insurance (EI) program, for which almost a million Canadians applied over the past week. For those not eligible for EI, the Federal government has introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). CERB will provide up to 2,000 a month for anyone who has lost income due to COVID-19.
The Varsity has reached out to the province’s media relations for comment.