Loans, bursaries and student debts
As of 2015, Ontario is the province with the highest post-secondary tuition rate in Canada.
The average student pays CA$6,000 per year to get a post-secondary education in Ontario. However, as of Oct. 1st, 2016, the general minimum wage job is $11.40 per hour, while the student minimum wage is only $10.70. With that being said, if a student were to work 10 hours per week for a whole year, they could earn around $5,928; which is not enough to cover meals, housing, nor pay for a whole year of education.
Richardson said that earning a minimum wage through one part-time job does not give students the opportunity to fulfill their daily and weekly expenses, while they are also paying for their education.
“There should be more opportunities for students on campus to work in positions where they could earn slightly above minimum wage," said Noah Richardson.
“I still very much rely on scholarships and loans to pay for school,” he said.
Richardson receives federal and provincial loans. He has kept his entrance scholarship from P.E.I. of $3,000 for the past three years, and each winter semester he applies for Carleton bursaries.
The Canadian government, led by Justin Trudeau, proposed to exempt graduates from repaying their student loans. “The government just passed a law so you don’t have to pay back your student loans until you are making $25,000 a year, which I think it will be really helpful,” said Richardson.
The impact of the Consumer Price Index in minimum-wage workers
Until 2015, the last minimum wage adjustment resulted in the decline of purchasing power for minimum wage workers, as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by seven percent. Currently, the CPI has increased for many basic needs, which includes food, transportation and personal care and health. This means that inflation rates are affecting minimum-wage workers since they spend higher portions of their income in basic needs.
Carlos Velázquez, a third-year Carleton University student, has faced difficulties due to the CPI increase. Last year, Velázquez worked two jobs so he could afford to pay for groceries and housing. Velázquez had little money left over for outings with friends.
Velázquez worked as a receptionist at the Residence Commons Desk and as a cashier at Abstentions. On top of all of this, Velázquez was enrolled in six courses per semester, which resulted in a decline in his GPA.
“Unfortunately my GPA dropped, so this year I’m trying to focus less on work and more on school by only working 20 hours a week,” he said.
Part-time jobs at Carleton University
Carleton University offers a variety of job opportunity for students. For example, the Carleton University Student’s Association (CUSA) employs over 200 undergraduates, whether that’s within their services centers, their offices or in their businesses.
Most of the part-time staff at Carleton are unionized. Under their collective agreement, “part-time staff cannot work more than 25 hours per week… students can work more hours one week, and less another, as long as the maximum hours they have within a pay period do not exceed 50 hours,” said CUSA VP Internal, Lauren Konarowski.
“Jobs at the beginning of the school year or semester get an influx in applications… rather than during an exam period, as students have other priorities at that time,” added Konarowski.
Carleton University also offers other job opportunities through Carleton Housing Residence Life Services.
Natalie Allan, the Assistance Director of Residence Life Services, said that last year they received over 350 applications for the Residence Fellow position.
“We are trying to amp up even more. Our goal this year is to have 400 applications for the position,” Allan said.
“I usually stay up until ungodly hours just to finish an assignment, and next I have work,” said Princess Javier.
Jacob Symington, a business student at Carleton University, said that Carleton should offer more part-time job opportunities to students so that they can learn how to manage their time and earn cash as well as work experience.
“I wish Carleton gave business students the opportunity to gain experience in any aspect early in their education rather than waiting until the third or fourth year,” Symington said.
When talking about the opportunities on campus, Richardson said, “there should be more opportunities for students on campus to work in positions where they could earn slightly above minimum wage; otherwise, we will find students ‘burning’ themselves out to try to achieve their economic needs.”