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AltAusterity Digest #82 January 17-23, 2019

This week in Austerity News:

Jan 25, 2019

The Ontario Conservative government has announced several planned changes in the post-secondary sector. The first is that it will be implementing a two-year tuition freeze for domestic students that will cost universities and colleges about $440 million. It is unclear whether these revenue losses will be matched by government funding, or whether costs will have to be recouped through other avenues. A second set of expected changes concerns the OSAP student aid system, which provides student loans for 230,000 post-secondary students. The changes revise downwards the family income thresholds that qualify students for tuition loans and tuition grants, meaning some low-income students will receive loans instead of grants.

One of the main themes at rallies for the third annual Women’s March was economic justice for women. In London, the march was themed as the Bread and Roses March in honour of the 1912 strike in the U.S. that transformed Women’s rights. Rally speeches in the U.S. and England focused on many issues including violence against women, reproductive rights and the disproportionate effect that austerity has on women. Other large marches took place in Athens, Berlin, Washington DC and Los Angeles. While turnout was still large, it was smaller than previous years in part due to controversy with the Women’s March organizers being accused of associating with the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has been known to make antisemitic and homophobic comments.

According to Fitch ratings, worldwide government debt has hit US$66 trillion, which is equivalent to about 80% of global GDP. As interest rates begin to rise and monetary policy tightens, there is concern in the business community that many countries will be “poorly positioned for financial tightening,” says James McCormack, Fitch’s head of sovereign ratings. Much of the rise of global government debt has been driven by the U.S., whose debt has jumped 44%, from $15.2 trillion to $21.9 trillion since 2012. Emerging economies, especially those in the Middle East and North Africa, have also seen their debts rise substantially from $10 trillion to $15 trillion over the same time period.

The LA teachers’ union reached a deal with school officials on Tuesday and will now go to the union’s membership for ratification. The agreement includes language for a “meaningful class size reduction” and a 6% pay raise. The teachers had already secured a pay raise and health benefits earlier in negotiations but decided to stay on strike until staffing needs were addressed to include more instructors, librarians and nurses. This LA teachers strike is the most recent in a string of strikes across the U.S. that views their actions as necessary to defend public education.

That's it for this week's Digest! Check back next Friday morning for another edition, or subscribe to our newsletter for a weekly roundup. We'll also Tweet each time we add new content, so you can keep up with our work @AltAusterity and join the #altausterity conversation!