Dear Mayor Watson and City Councillors,

In a memo written earlier this week from Aaron Burry, General Manager of Community and Social Services, it was stated that graduate students continue to be eligible for childcare subsidies. This claim appears to contradict the City’s policy and the recent experience of many graduate students.

Numerous low-income graduate students at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa have been denied the ability to apply for the subsidy or told that they will no longer receive their childcare subsidy as of May 2013 specifically because of their status as graduate students. Furthermore, as we wrote in our previous letter dated January 8th, 2013, it is our understanding from email exchanges with City officials that City of Ottawa policy CCSU 4.9 reads:

A parent who demonstrates progression through a full time academic, language or training program excluding Master’s and Doctorate level programs meets the criteria for a recognized need for child care fee subsidy. [emphasis added]

Clearly the memo sent to the Mayor and City Council by Mr. Burry does not match the City’s policy or practice and is either misinformed or intentionally misleading. Both Graduate Students’ Associations have received multiple contradictory statements from various City officials and it still has not been made clear whether graduate students are completely ineligible or just the least prioritized. According to the many students who have contacted us, any graduate student parents currently receiving the subsidy were simply grandfathered into the subsidy program because they applied prior to the policy directive quoted above. It remains unclear whether they will be at all eligible for the subsidy after April 2013.

Public responses to this issue by City staff and elected officials have thus far simply denied that low-income graduate student parents and guardians are being excluded from the childcare subsidy program. In addition to being unconstructive, these denials, as we are trying to illustrate in this letter, are not consistent with the evidence.

As residents of the City of Ottawa, graduate student parents deserve clarity on both the official policy and the administrative practices of the City. We respectfully request immediate clarification as to the status of graduate students in relation to childcare subsidies. If it is indeed the case that graduate students are excluded, either presently or in the future, we ask that you repeal this exclusionary and unfair policy, and reinstate child care subsidies to low-income graduate students.

Sincerely,

Anna Goldfinch
Vice President External
Graduate Students’ Association, Carleton University
vpx@gsacarleton.ca
613.520.2600 x8270

Taiva Tegler
External Commissioner
Graduate Students’ Association of the University of Ottawa
613.562.5800 x6671
external@gsaed.ca