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Dear Members of the Provostial Committee on Graduate Student Financial Support

I wanted to personally ask you to raise the minimum on the research funding package to the adult
poverty line.
I find it a disgrace to be told every few weeks (see below again) how greatly ranked UofT
worldwide is and how it is one of the best places in Canada to work (see story below) knowing that
most graduate students don't even receive enough money to barely live. This is just distasteful....
Personally I am lucky enough to have an external scholarship, but I constantly hear stories from
colleagues how they low money is impacting their work. This has to change immediately.
Name Withheld

I just wanted to let the Provostial Committee for Graduate Students know that I think it is a
VERY IMPORTANT priority to bring the guaranteed funding for graduate students up to the
poverty line.
As a graduate student who only makes $15,000 a year, I have had to rely on my parents
(for loans, and financial assistance) in order to go to graduate school. Toronto is an
expensive city, and I think that increasing funding to the poverty line is a basic issue of
justice and fairness.
I am fortunate to have parents who can help me out, providing me with loans and financial
assistance. But not everyone does. And I think that every Canadian citizen should feel like
it is an option to pursue graduate work: we don't want this to be the province of the well off
and well to do.
So, please work to increase our funding. Asking to have it set at the poverty line is not
unreasonable: in fact, it is just asking for basic fairness.
All best,
Dan Hooley
PhD Student, Philosophy

I was disappointed to hear from the UTGSU that some of the committee members receiving this
email are out of touch with the realities facing graduate students.
We work hard because we are dedicated to our research. However, at least in my opinion as a
graduate student, the funding support we receive is inadequate. Living on the funding package we
are provided is punitively difficult. Most graduate students I know and work with seek out
additional means of generating income - our existing funding is not enough to live on.
Indeed, we are given a salary that appears to be pegged to the poverty line rather than our
credentials and contributions. We make less income than if we held a minimum wage job. And we
do this while creating the research, innovation, and results that drive our University's success and

I have three degrees already, and am finished my PhD coursework. I spend all day working as a
scientist, producing data and analysis that keeps my research group at the forefront of our field, and
am paid less than if I worked at Starbucks. I struggle to pay my bills. I can't afford any unexpected
costs. Its stressful to lack the money to replace a kitchen item, a pair of pants, or take the bus back
home for a good friend's wedding.
The status quo on graduate student funding is out of step with the financial reality graduate students
face. Please consider the hard work we do, and the difficulties we have living off our existing
support. I urge you to listen to the graduate student's representatives, and align our funding with the
critical value we deliver to the University of Toronto.
Name Withheld

Dear members of the Provostial Committee for Graduate Student Financial Support,
As a PhD student in the Psychology Department, I think it is essential for GSU to raise the
minimum funding package to the poverty line.
The issue of graduate student funding should be a priority, and I support UTGSU and CUPE to
represent my concerns in this matter.
I look forward to your comments and feedback.
Name Withheld

I am contacting you to express my support for the UTGSU in their efforts to have the minimum
funding for graduate students raised above the single adult poverty line.
I hope you will strongly consider increasing the funding, as it would make a great difference in the
quality of life for your grad students!!
Best regards,
Name Withheld

Dear committee members:

I am writing this email to support our UTGSU members on the Provostial Committee for Graduate
Student Financial Support. We are looking forward to a reasonable research funding package that is
above the single adult poverty line. This is very important considering the fact that it is common to
have many years of research for a significant scientific finding and sufficient financial support
would be very helpful for this endeavor.
Thank you very much for your kindly notice and consideration.

Name Withheld

Dear committee,
I am writing to voice my support for raising the guaranteed minimum level of funding. My husband
and I are both graduate students. We find it difficult to make ends meet on this current stipend and it
has affected our health and lifestyle in ways that it shouldn't. We cannot afford to eat healthy meals
or have children. We are slipping further and further into credit card debt, ruining our credit. We are
not sure we would recommend graduate school to anyone for this reason. Please ensure that the
minimum funding package is no lower than the poverty line. Please support women and students in
general who make the decision to pursue higher education. We deserve it.
Name Withheld

Dear Sir/Madam,
My name is Melissa Paniccia and I am a PhD student in Rehab Science at the University of Toronto
in the Graduate Department of Rehabilitation Sciences.
I am writing this email to inform you that I support the University of Toronto Graduate Student
Union representatives on the Provostial Committee for Graduate Student Financial Support in their
efforts to:
1) Increase the minimum guaranteed level of funding (which has not been revised since 2008 and is
below the poverty line for a single adult)
2) To inform you that establishing a higher minimum guaranteed level of funding for graduate
students (than it's present level) is a high priority issue to myself and fellow graduate students
Although the results of this action will likely not benefit me directly, I feel compelled to make my
voice heard for those individuals who will deal with the repercussions of a lack of action now.
Thank you for your time,
Melissa Paniccia
Camille Williams

Hi, dear committee administrators,

I am a PhD student in ECE department. I am writing to state my support on UTGSU members on
the Provostial Committee for Graduate Student Financial Support.
I do agree that a raise in the guaranteed minimum level of funding to the poverty line is a proposal
of justice, if we consider the balance between "we pay" and "we get". For example, the rent of UofT
family housing inceases every year without any delay; the tuition increases year by year, even I
don't register any course after the first year.But the minimum level of funding have never been
changed. More specific, after the tuition ~20000$/year and rent ~10000$/year, only ~3000$/year
left for making a living. Can I get a decent dinner after a whole day work in the lab? This is

definitely a priority for me to consider.

"It's time to change". Thanks Jaby Mathew,Jason Dumelie and Stephanie Shaw for resonating the
Jixian XU
PhD student, ECE
My apologies if this is coming late. I just wanted to support your work to get the minimum funding
raised above the the single adult poverty line. Currently, it is impossible for me to focus completely
on my full time PhD studies with the funding I have. It barely covers my rent, and I have a family to
care for as well. Raising the funding is definitely a priority for me.

To whom it may concern:

I am writing to support the move to raise the guaranteed minimum level of funding. As I understand
it, the guaranteed funding package is intended to provide basic support for graduate students to
facilitate research (and therefore, continue U of T's record of excellence). Therefore, it is quite
reasonable to raise it regularly. Raise it in response to inflation (like many jobs) or some other
method. In any case, it should be at least in the range of the poverty line. I'm certain there are
complications and budgets and all sorts of reasons to leave the package as it is. However, that would
be true in the case of any increase in costs, and this one hasn't been raised since 2008. Is there any
form of income that has been unchanged in that time? I'm fairly certain that tuition/fees and
government funding have changed in that time.
Thank you for your attention, and if you have reasons the funding package should not be updated to
reflect changes in the costs of living, I would be happy to hear them.
Matt Bouchard
PhD Student
Faculty of Information

As a PhD student at the University of Toronto,
I am writing this email to inform you that I support the University of Toronto Graduate Student
Union representatives on the Provostial Committee for Graduate Student Financial Support in their
efforts to:
1) Increase the minimum guaranteed level of funding (which has not been revised since 2008 and is
below the poverty line for a single adult)
2) To inform you that establishing a higher minimum guaranteed level of funding for graduate

students (than it's present level) is a high priority issue to myself and fellow graduate students
From my personal experience, I have found the current level of graduate student funding to be too
low. Financial hardships have been an incredible obstacle that has impeded my ability to participate
fully in the pursuit of knowledge at the University of Toronto. This encompasses activities that are
directly related to the research process (i.e. formulating a plan of action and carrying the plan
through to fruition) as well as engaging in activities that foster professional development (i.e.
volunteer positions, conferences, business seminars).
In addition, I have found the low level of funding to exacerbate problems related to obtaining and
maintaining basic needs such as food and shelter. These worries often get in the way of my
productivity and efficiency.
Furthermore, it is quite concerning that I often find myself discussing issues pertaining to financial
management with fellow students. Most times, the issue is not that the students wants are exceeding
needs. Rather, students often identify a link between the current low level of funding to
impediments that extend beyond their professional career to personal health and well-being.
Without a foundation of health and well-being (e.g. forgoing meals to make sure the rent is paid; the
ability to participate in activities that promote personal development and mental health), how do we
expect students to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the University of Toronto? How
do we expect them to approach their research or team-based activities with clarity of the mind? As
ambassadors of the University of Toronto, how are they perceived by individuals outside of the
University of Toronto?
Although the results of this action will likely not benefit me directly, I feel compelled to make my
voice heard for those individuals who will deal with the repercussions of a lack of action now.
Thank you for your time,
Name Withheld

Dear members of the Provostial Committee for Graduate Student Financial

It is very difficult living below the poverty line, as I am sure you can imagine. There are number of
sacrifices I need to make on a daily basis that impact my ability to do my work. For instance, due to
the price of renting in the Annex, I live a 45 min commute from the university. So I spend 1.5hrs a
day commuting, which cuts into my work day. I have to make concessions on the food I eat and
the extracurricular activities that would improve my health and wellbeing (i.e., yoga), so ultimately
my health suffers. This is just one way in which my life is affected by our pitiful income. I am at
the point now where I am considering getting a part-time job in order to make ends meet. Toronto is
far to expensive a city to be living off our graduate income. Most of us work 40-60hrs a week, at
least 5 days a week, 12 months a year. That's 9600-14400 hrs a year - based on our current funding
package, we are paid next to nothing. The research that graduate students do at the University of
Toronto is foundational to this University's status as a top-tier research University. Graduate
students deserve to live a quality of life that is 'at least' at the poverty line.
As a graduate student at the University of Toronto, I support the efforts of the UTGSU to raise the
minimum funding package to the poverty line. I consider the issue of graduate student funding to be
a priority and feel that the UTGSU appropriately represents my concerns in this matter.

Name Withheld

To UTGSU members of the Provostial Committee for Graduate Student Financial Support:
I am writing to express my support for the efforts of those UTGSU members on the Provostial
Committee for Graduate Student Financial Support pushing to raise the guaranteed minimum level
of funding for graduate students to the poverty line. I am in the second year of a PhD program in
Philosophy, and my third year as a student in the GSU. I barely make enough money to live in
Toronto, and have very seriously considered trying to find work as a teaching assistant in another
city where, although I won't have guaranteed funding, I will be able to afford my rent while I write
my dissertation. Like most graduate students at UofT, I live substantially below the poverty line.
These are grim circumstances: staying in the city to access the resources available at UofT is a
priority for me, but living comfortably is simply not possible given my current income. My
concerns are not unique.
I applaud any effort to raise the guaranteed minimum level of funding for graduate students at UofT.
All the best,
Name Withheld

I strongly support the UTGSU members on the Provostial Committee for Graduate Student
Financial Support in their work to raise the guaranteed minimum level of funding to the poverty
The current funding package for PhD students is not enough to rent a Bachelor apartment in
Toronto and it is simply not enough to live on. All of my colleagues (including me) have to take on
additional work to support ourselves. We have to teach, for example, more language classes in and
outside of the university and take on students for tutoring. This does not only take away time from
our research, it also prevents us from volunteering or engaging in more campus activities. Working
on a PhD Thesis is stressful enough but the stress is also enhanced by money worries and worries
that our funding will run out before our projects are finished.
I believe that a funding that corresponds to the poverty line is not too much to ask but the minimum.
We should be able to pay our rent and food from our funding package without having to take on
additional jobs.
Name Withheld

Dear members of the Provostial Committee,

The Biochemistry Graduate Students Union (BGSU) conducted a survey during the previous school
term to gain a better understanding over student concerns, including financial issues. I have
summarized the section about finances below, but I can provide a hard copy of the survey if

From the 46 responses that we received, 35 individuals (76%) said they are only able to save
between $0 and $300 per month after tuition and living expenses. There were 37 comments left in
the free form section linked to this question. 16 students (43%) said that they are not in a
comfortable financial situation. Another six students (16%) said they were comfortable only due to
external scholarships and/or living at home with their parents.
My impression from the survey is that graduate student finances are stretched to the limit. We do
not have much in savings and will have difficulty paying down student loans or unexpected
expenses such as medical emergencies. I believe that an increase in the guaranteed minimum level
of funding in very much needed.
Thank you for your time,
Alan Ji
BGSU Academic Commissioner
PhD Candidate

Dear Provostial Committee for Graduate Student Financial Support,

Securing minimum funding above the poverty for myself and my peers in the department is a very
high priority on my list. My first year in my program was with the minimum funding stipend, and a
couple of unexpected expenses early that made for extreme financial stress. It affected my
productivity at work, and it affected the my ability to live a happy healthy life.
Obviously, no one is trying to get rich by going to graduate school (and if they are, they are using a
terrible strategy). However, there is a limit to how little you can pay someone for their work, and
that limit needs to be respected by the school. I believe that the vow of poverty belongs to budding
clergymen, not young researchers.

Dear committee members,

I am writing this email to express my support of the UTGSU members on the PCGSFS pushing for
a raise in guaranteed minimum level of funding. This issue is absolutely a crucial one for graduate
students, and it affects not only our studies, but our lives and the options available to us as we plan
for our future. It is incomprehensible that while the standard of living in Toronto has risen, making
Toronto one of the most expensive cities in Canada, the funding for students has not- yet we are
expected to be able to commit fully to our studies. It is simply not possible for a single adult to live
on the student funding and thrive at the University, our minds are occupied with how to make ends
meet and we thus end up having to search for part-time employment outside of our University
commitments. This adds on more stress, and further strains our health and our dependence on the
student health plan which is also inadequate.
Further, the inadequate funding also affects how we plan for our futures, such as deciding to start a
family or not, whether we can afford to live closer to the university and thus commit more time to
studying, researching, service positions and community building. For many, it also is a decision
whether to continue pursuing their graduate degree or going back to work because they can no
longer afford to live on the graduate funding package. As you can imagine, this disproportionately
affects populations that are already marginalized and have less access to post-secondary- further

entrenching inequity in our city.

It's crucial that the committee revisit this issue and make a stronger commitment to social justice
and their graduate students, asking people to live below the poverty line is not only unethical, but
also unrealistic. I support Jaby, Jason and Stephanie in their efforts to bring more equity to the
graduate student union and the university as a whole.
Thank you,

I support the graduate student representatives on the PCGSFS in their claims that minimum funding
is a priority for graduate students.
I have been a graduate student at U of T four years and during my time here I have been paid the
same flat stipend, of $15,500 which my department tops up to $16,500 with an endowed grant.
While I have been in Toronto my expenses have increased considerably. I am debt free and plan to
stay that way, however this is getting very difficult as my expenses have increased by much more
than official inflation figures would suggest. In order to compensate I spend a lot more of my time
reducing my expenses and not doing my research. Some examples of economic issues I face a
graduate student at U of T:
I have not moved since I came to Toronto, my rent started out at $670 per month but has increased
7% to $717, costing me an extra $564 per year. Keep in mind that I this rent gets me 300 square feet
of a bachelor/studio which I share with my girlfriend (another U of T graduate student), so once
divided, I actually have the cheapest rent of any graduate student I know at U of T.
Sharing my apartment with my girlfriend also saved our department tens of thousands of dollars
because we can claim common law status and this allowed her to switch from ludicrous
international tuition rates to domestic tuition. We will see none of these savings.
TTC fares have risen in three large increments since I moved to Toronto. I can no longer afford to
take the TTC, this would be over $1200 per year for a pass each month. Instead I now bike (a onetime investment plus repairs ~$1200) in the summer or walk 5km in the winter (50 minutes each
way, costing me 1h40m of research time each day).
My internet costs have increased almost 30% while losing service quality.
My phone costs have increased over 30%.
If I lose access to Hart House this year while still paying increased fees from last year my athletics
costs have gone up by another third as well.
As food costs have inflated, I find I am travelling further to find better deals on food. My diet has
changed due to necessity; I eat much more canned and preserved food than ever before, and much
less meat.
I am a member of the Varsity Mountain Bike team, I have been riding the same mountain bike for
the last 10 years and would really like to save up for a new one but this will not be possible as long

as I am a student.
I have very little savings and no emergency fund, if anything were to happen to me I would rely on
my parents to fly me back to BC and I would not hesitate to leave Toronto and U of T.
My dentist has been on my case to get my wisdom teeth out, but I cannot afford it, I just hope I can
hold off until my first real job (post-doc at U of T?).
I constantly worry about money and costs when I should be concentrating on my research. My
biggest concern as a graduate student right now is time. I constantly ask how much is my time
worth? and according to the university it is not worth much, so I must act accordingly in order to
live in Toronto.
tldr: I fully support the graduate student representatives on the PCGSFS in their efforts to prioritize
an increase in minimum funding for graduate students.
Thank you,
--Name Withheld--

I am writing to you all at the urging of the GSU to assure you that the GSU absolutely is
representing my interests with their request for minimum funding at the current poverty line.
I consider myself to be extremely resourceful and frugal. Even so, it is difficult for me to live in
Toronto on $15,000 per year.
I hope I'll be successful in securing SSHRC funding next year. Until then, I'm making use of some
skills I haven't had to access in a while, inclusive of "dumpster diving" for groceries, and tailoring
friends' clothes for extra money.
The cost of living now is not what it was in 2008. Please take the demands of the GSU seriously,
and know that they have the support of students like myself.
Erin Lofting

I am e-mailing to support the UTGSU in their push for a raise in the minimum level of funding for
graduate students. I personally think it is unacceptable to pay graduate students a salary that is
below the poverty line. The administration must be aware that graduate school is not a part-time
job; this is not something we graduate students do on the side as a hobby. This is our sole source of
revenue, and paying us below the poverty line means you are forcing us to live below the poverty
line. A graduate student does not have time to juggle a part-time job to help with the bills, and most
of us no longer have financial support from our parents. This means that important aspects of our
lives suffer. Personally, I live in sub-standard housing in a rough Toronto neighbourhood in order to
find rent that I can afford. Even still, my rent comprises over 30% of my small monthly income,
while transit (at least $100/month) and food make up the rest. Toronto is an exceptionally expensive
city to live in, so the graduate student salary should reflect this.

U of T wants its graduate students to be productive and contribute to the university with world-class
research, but this is difficult to achieve with such enormous financial worries. I myself love the
cutting-edge research I am doing in brain imaging in mental illnesses at CAMH as a part of my
masters degree, and would love to continue this research in a Ph.D. With the current funding
packages, however, I would not consider doing my Ph.D. at U of T, and instead plan to get a job in
industry. The financial burden of staying in school is too great, and I am reaching an age where I
have to start thinking about saving for my future. My decision about any possible career in
academia will be based monetary concerns alone.
I hope you think of all the bright, capable students that have been lost to private sector jobs, or
American universities with better funding packages because of U of T's archaic financial policies
when you are making your decision. An increase in funding to the poverty line is so little to ask.
Please contact me if you have any questions or would like me to comment further.
--Name Withheld

Dear Provostial Committee for Graduate Student Financial Support,

As a PhD student at the University of Toronto, I would like to encourage you to raise the guaranteed
minimum level of funding. This is a major issue for many of us graduate students. I am particularly
concerned that my guaranteed funding does not even reach the poverty line for a single adult.
Thank you for considering this raise for the betterment of your graduate students.
Kristen Schranz

Hi, there has been an email circulating on behalf of the GSU at UofT asking us to send an email to
all of you to consider a pay increase for graduate students.
It is my understanding that the salaries have not been increasing steadily as they should. In a city
(and world) with ever-increasing costs associated with inflation do you not believe it fair to allow
students to at least maintain their standard of living - albeit as low as it is?
I would like to point your attention to this newly released data as of last week:
As you can see quite clearly UofT has roughly twice as much research funding as the school next in
line: i.e. 1,038 MILLION vs. 585 MILLION at Uoft and UBC respecitively.
The students are responsible for this grant of funding and it is unethical for us students to not see a
dime of increase in our salaries based on this data.
Thus based on this advice, I strongly vouch for grad student stipend increases immediately.

Shariq Mujib

I am a graduate student in Mathematics in my fifth year of my PhD. I am the father of a 2-year old
and a 3-year old. My wife does not work, because even if she were to work part-time we would
need to spend thousands of dollars on child care and thus we would see very little net income from
all those hours she would be working. I know I am not the only graduate student trying to support a
family. Without the support of my parents I would not still be here - I would have been forced to
drop out and get a job that pays more than the scant amount I get as a grad student. I am lucky to
have parents who are willing to financially support me at 28 years old, but not everyone is so
There is no reason why grad students who are working, teaching, and researching full-time should
be making less than the poverty line. Please increase the minimum funding.
Jim McGarva

Dear Provostial Committee for Graduate Student Financial Suppor t,

I would like to echo my support for increasing the guaranteed minimum level of funding for
graduate students to the poverty line. As a graduate student in my 5th year and having acted as an
elected graduate student representative for graduate students for three years (2009-2012, University
of Toronto Graduate Student Union) and thus having consulted many students at the University of
Toronto, I believe this is of TOP priority to graduate students.

Not increasing the guaranteed funding package results in limited access to graduate education, and
further contributes to an increase in student debt. Especially for underprivileged students and
students with dependants, of which there are many, the graduate funding package is the major
source of income to their families. It forces them to reconsider their choice of graduate studies
and/or engage in unnecessary debt or take on additional employment, thus preventing them from
performing at the same level as their peers. This is an example of the ways in which the current
funding levels prevent equality in access to education. As a student who comes from a family in the
low income bracket, increasing the graduate funding package is also of personal priority to me as I
face significant financial pressure in maintaining my status as a graduate student. Furthermore, I
believe that by increasing the funding package, the university can attract bigger and brighter talent.
Therefore, increasing the funding package is undoubtedly of mutual benefit.

--Name Withheld

Dear all,
I hope this is one of many messages that you are receiving regarding minimum funding levels for
graduate students at U of T. I expect that you'll have many stories to consider, and I hope that mine
helps to convince you of the urgency of this problem.
I am a fourth year PhD student at the Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies.
Compared to my peers, I am fortunate - I am a SSHRC recipient, I have a partner who carries more
than his share in supporting our household, and I've been lucky in securing teaching work outside U
of T. Even so, with all of these advantages, my husband and I have ended up (more than once)
stretching $20 to feed us both for a week at the end of a month. We live modestly, in a 400 square
foot apartment just outside of the downtown core. My husband earns a reasonable wage. Rather
than pay for TTC, he walks 45 mins each way to his office, and I walk 75 mins to and from campus.
We eat home-cooked food, and I channel my grandparents in mending anything that breaks. Yet we still fall short.
To address the short-fall, I regularly seek out and take contracts so that we can eat more than canned
peas and mystery meat. When I am on contract, which is (thankfully?) often, my work-day is
reprehensibly long. Some days, I am up at 4:30 and don't see my bed again until after midnight. Of
course, most of this work-day is consumed with projects that have little to do with my dissertation,
so I fill my weekends and my 'quiet' days with fevered work to keep on top of my writing schedule.
While I appreciate that a PhD is meant to be hard work, and most days that I am actually working
on my dissertation I really enjoy what I do, I'm constantly exhausted and quite sure that my school
work suffers.
Of course, to this is added the pressure to get out there and present my work at conferences. I have
the work, and I'm ready to share - but for every conference that I attend outside of Toronto, I'm
giving up two weeks, sometimes a month of dedicated writing in exchange. Even with the support
of grants from my program and from the university, I have to shore up the additional expense with
more 'outside' work. I find myself deciding between doing the work that will (hopefully) one day
land me a 'real' job, and doing the work that will lead me to the end of this degree.
And... as I said, I'm fortunate among my peers. When I'm flush, I have had friends over for dinner
not because it's a nice thing to do, but because I know that they literally have no food at home. My
guests express their exasperation - they feel trapped. They know they should feel fortunate - it is an
honour to study at U of T and to spend days immersed in the ideas they care so deeply about. Yet, it
is devastating to be in your thirties and to not be able to support yourself... devastating on so many
I'll finish off by adding that I did my MA at the University of Alberta. Of course, anything in
Alberta is touched with oil money, and I understand that the situation is quite different in Ontario.
However, my tuition was half of what it is at U of T, and my funding was double. U of T isn't
measuring up to its Canadian peers and, as Canada's leading University (on every ranking, it
seems), shouldn't it?
With thanks for your time,

--Name Withheld

Dear members of the committee,

Hi. I am writing this email to support the UTGSU members movement for raising the guaranteed
minimum level of funding for graduate students.
I am a second year PHD student within the department of Computer Science at UofT. I think that
increasing the funding package for the graduate students to be above the poverty line is essential for
a student.
The financial issue is a major stressor for me while continuing my studies. I think of quitting the
studies so I can work, not because I don't enjoy the research I am working on, but because I am
constantly worried how I will be able to afford most simple, basic needs in my life.
More particularly, I have to live farther from the campus because I didn't find affordable housing
options close to the main campus. This is still not the major issue for me. I found a bachelor
apartment with a reasonable price at the time. However, every year the rent is increased as well as
the tuition fees for the university where as the funding package I received this year is only slightly
more than last year. I recently decided to find a new apartment but I soon realized, renting prices in
Toronto are extremely high (beyond reason I may add). Unless I live in an unsafe neighborhood, or
to rent a room in a house (which all will have their own issues, I will not mention at this point), it
seems that my apartment still is the most affordable in Toronto but yet I find it to be come less and
less affordable for me and not sure how long I can stay in my studies if this continues. This keeps
me from concentrating on my research and causes constant worrying about the future.
Another issue that will come up is how these students can afford to have a family ? Considering that
specially as a PHD student they are not young kids living with their parents anymore. They are at
the age to have a family of their own. I think of if it is even possible to have a family with such
restricted funding so I decides to hold off on having a family for now.
I try not to buy books that I need and instead use a library which doesn't always have the books
available. All I know is at times nothing seems to be affordable for me.
I think students (specially in the PHD level) shouldn't have to constantly rethink their decision to
continue their research on the subject they are so enthusiastic about or even to quit studies because
of the low funding they are receiving while working day and night.
Please consider that many of these students have responsibilities at this age, sometimes not only
responsible for themselves but also for others.
Canada which is in many aspects either a head or competing closely with successful European
countries, in the aspect of providing students (specially PHDs) with reasonable funding packages
and more comfortable living situations is way behind.
The funding is a big issue for graduate students (specially PHDs), preventing them from fully
committing (and focusing) on their research of interest and it is time to really acknowledge this
issue and stop being delusional.
Thank you for your consideration,
--Name Withheld

Dear PCGSFS committee members,

I'm writing to express my support for GSU efforts to increase graduate student funding to meet the
poverty line for a single adult. Toronto is a major North American city flooded with young
professionals and families earning good wages in jobs that drive the national economy. Living
expenses such as rent, food, transport etc. reflect the relative wealth of the city. The current
graduate student minimum funding package simply does not allow us to maintain a reasonable
standard of living over the course of our degree. Most graduate students I know (myself included)
survive by returning home for part of the year, however far that may be from libraries and relevant
research institutions. We continue to borrow money from our parents and other lenders when the
fellowship money runs part way through the year. Meeting the poverty line is not, I think, a
particularly egregious demand. Our graduate student body consists of some of the most qualified,
most employable young adults in the country. We all know we *could* earn more elsewhere, but
we're passionate about our research. No one is demanding we should be well remunerated for our
training. We simply ask that our training is financially viable as a life choice. At $15,000 a year,
it's becoming increasingly hard to make that case.
I sincerely urge you to support our efforts to increase funding levels.
Best wishes,
--Name Withheld

Hi UTSGU members,
As a graduate student at UofT I absolutely think the minimum funding should not fall below the
poverty line. Investing in my education was a personal choice and one I will continue to pay for
well after I graduate. I chose UofT for its excellent academic standing and fantastic resources and I
am pleased with my program of choice. As much as I have come to grips with the fact that I have
student debt, I'm greatly alarmed by the fact that graduate funding at this university has taken a
severe hit, leaving hundreds of students in financial distress.
Working as a research assistant at UofT pays minimum wage for a maximum of 12 hours per week;
which are frankly difficult to carve out of the intense course work associated with my masters. In
addition I take on other part-time jobs in order to be able to afford the high cost of living in Toronto
(as commuting from my parent's homes isn't a viable option). I'm eternally grateful for my parents'
help, however I do not wish to continuously burden them financially due to the fact that funding
provided by the university may fall below the poverty line. Moreover, many students don't have the
possibility to get any financial help from their families, causing them to spiral into further debt, with
no guarantee that their degrees will safeguard stable employment post-graduation.
--Name Withheld

Dear members of the Provostial Committee for Graduate Student Financial Support,

I am a second year Ph.D. student at the EEB and would like to express my support to the GSU and
the members who represent myself and the other Grad students at UofT.
The current guaranteed stipend is unacceptably low. My personal guaranteed stipend is $24k
per year. I receive $21k from NSERC and around $3k from my TA hours. After paying my tuition,
which is around $8.5k I have a total of $15.5k per year to survive in Toronto.
This means that my monthly salary is $1291.00.
This would be enough money to survive if we did not live in Toronto.
Here are some of the monthly expenses of a Grad student:
Rent: $850 (low end)
Internet: $35
Food: $200
Phone: $75
TTC metropass: $106
These are elementary bare bones expenses Grad students have to pay every single month at
a total of $1266.00.
This leaves no room whatsoever for extra expenses if they ever arise like:
A new article of clothing, a gift for a friend/family, a computer to write my thesis, transportation
money to visit family on the holidays and numerous other scenarios wherein graduate students can
not afford a simple regular person's life.
Several students I know acquire loans as a solution to survive during Grad school. Then, after they
complete their Ph.D. degrees and are called Doctors, not only do they have struggled to find a
job, but they have to pay the entire debt they've acquired during their Grad school. Several
thousands of dollars, so they could finish their thesis and publish the results in great journals.
There are people who have taken a different route: they work on weekends in construction. But
why does a Ph.D. student, who is extremely smart and intelligent, have to resort to working as a
labor in construction? Simple. In working Saturday and Sunday (8 days per month) carrying bricks,
concrete, breaking walls, etc, they make around $1200.00 per month as labors. That might be
a good solution only it defeats it's purpose when on Monday morning they cannot concentrate and
produce work as a Ph.D. student because they are super tired from the weekend work they had to
do to survive.
Do we want to have a stipend of $100k per year? No. We just want to be able to focus and perform
at a higher level than we do today. How can we do this? Dedicating our brains and ideas to our
research and not having to obsess on finding a solution to paying next month's bills.
I hope the committee pays attention to the outcry of UTGSU members and all the Grad students at
UofT and helps us focus on what really matters: our projects and our goal to succeed in the name of
our university.
Yours sincerely,
--Name Withheld

I am writing as an anthropology doctoral candidate and as the mother of a seven-year-old girl

that it is absolutely crucial and a top priority for the guaranteed graduate minimum funding to
be raised at least to poverty level.

Melinda Vandenbeld Giles

I am writing this letter to strongly voice my support for the current motion to
increase the minimum level of funding for graduate students.

In the current year, I have received only $1000 of funding thus far. I am taking
5 graduate courses this semester and am forced to work in two minimum wage jobs
outside of the university to even begin to make ends meet and to fund my
research. This is far less than adequate to cover the costs of my graduate
education while supporting my dependent at the same time. I have given much
thought to transferring to a better school which does support its graduate
students sufficiently. Even if I decide to stay in my program in Geography, I
will be left with almost all of my tuition for the year unpaid and be forced to
work for several months to even be able to pay for the luxury of graduating.
When I chose this university over the University of British Columbia, it was
with the assumption that even the most basic of graduate needs would be
supported. My colleagues in the same program at UBC have received more than
sufficient funding as per the university's commitment to fund all graduate
students. There is very little incentive for me to continue my studies here at
the University of Toronto because of this lack of funding and the extremely
large debt I am accruing because of it.
Thus, I support the UTGSU members on the Provisional Committee for Graduate
Financial Support in their advocacy of increasing the minimum graduate funding
Thank you,
Michael Pickering

Dear Members of the Provostial Committee for Graduate Student

Financial Support,
I am writing to urge you to consider raising the standard level of
financial support for Ph.D. students at the University of Toronto. I
am a Ph.D. student in my fourth year of studies.
I am truly very grateful for the financial support that U of T
guarantees, and I am aware of many universities that are not nearly as
generous. I would love to see the U of T continue to lead other
universities in its commitment to graduate students and the important
contribution they make to the university, by raising the level of
financial support to at least the poverty line.
I am married with two children. Since we moved to Toronto to begin my
studies three years ago, my wife has stayed at home to raise our
children. As I said above, the $15,000 yearly stipend has been very
helpful to my family. However, it is impossible for a family of four
to live on an income of $15,000 in the city of Toronto. Many promising
PhD students are like myself: wanting to start a family before they
finish their PhD, and wanting to have one of the parents do the child

Please consider raising the standard level of financial support for U
of T PhD students. I know it would only raise the level of research,
teaching, etc., that the PhD students contribute to the university.

--Name Withheld

To the members of the Provostial Committee for Graduate Student Financial Support:
I am writing to you on behalf of the Drama Centre Student Union.
Our Executive Members are strongly in support of raising the graduate student minimum funding level to the
poverty line. It is our deepest hope this can be achieved as soon as possible.
As you are all well aware, the guarantee minimum funding amount has not been increased since 2008. The
current amount of $15,000 per year for PhD students, or $12,000 per year for MA students, does not
adequately cover the basic costs of living in downtown Toronto.
The university also needs to seriously consider the number of years allocated to guaranteed funding packages.
Currently it is not in sync with the average number of years it takes students to complete a MA or PhD.
The current guaranteed funding PhD levels, of $15,000 per year, works out to $1250/month for PhD
students. For MA students, they receive only $1000/month.
If the university values our labour as research assistants, teaching assistants, and emerging scholars these
amounts needs to be increased. The numbers speak for themselves:
Based on an extremely conservative estimate for rent in downtown Toronto of $700 + $100 utilities per month
(for shared accommodations), the average graduate student in our program is left with only $450, or $112 a
week on which to live. In the case of MA students, they have only $50 a week on which to live.
To put graduate students' weekly wage into perspective, $112/per week is the equivalent wage of working 11
hours at a minimum wage job in Ontario.
With a weekly wage of $112, graduate students struggle to find enough money for the basic necessities of
living such as: groceries, TTC metro passes ($106.00/month), clothing, and personal care items. That says
nothing of having enough money left over to pay for goods and services necessary to our scholarly activities
such our computers, home internet access, books, printing or office supplies.
In short: graduate students at the University of Toronto are struggling to make ends meet. The lack of a liveable
wage means students are going far into personal debt, or are taking on unreasonably high work loads in order
to try to make extra money.
Graduate students at U of T are being forced into taking on extra work above and beyond our course work,
theses, and already mandatory TA and RA hours. At the Drama Centre we also have TPA hours (Technical
Assistantships related to our theatrical programming.)
Many of our students need to take additional work study, TA or RA positions in order to try to pay our rents and
ensure we have enough money to eat.
Having to take on additional work means graduate students have less time to spend on important academic
pursuits such as working on conference papers and submitting articles for publication. We are sure you would
agree with us these activities are imperative to our development as scholars and also to reputation of the
U of T is doing graduate students a disservice by admitting them to programs in downtown Toronto but not
providing enough funding to ensure we can afford to live.
For all of these reasons, the Drama Centre Students Union is strongly in support of increasing the guaranteed
minimum level of funding. We would like to see this extended to all graduate students, so that our wages might
be at least the poverty line.
The Drama Centre Student Union Executive

-Jessica Thorp

Good morning,
I am writing as a graduate student at the University of Toronto and as the president of the
Comparative Literature Course Union. I understand that UTGSU representatives on the Provostial
Committee for Graduate Student Financial Support are asking that the minimum guaranteed funding
package should be no lower than the poverty line. Further, I understand that some members of the
committee feel this is not a priority for graduate students.
Perhaps these committee members have never lived below the poverty line. It seems to me as
though they are speaking from a position of long-standing privilege that does not require them to
make the difficult choices that I and my fellow students face on a daily basis. With all due respect, I
would like to draw your attention to the following figures to help illustrate my point.
When Dr. Avrum Gotlieb was hired as the Acting Chair of Pathology and Clinical
Biochemistry, in 1996, his annual salary was $148,421.00.This salary has since increased
every year, sometimes by as much as 11.42%. In 2005, his salary was of $235,889.76 (12
times the amount of the current poverty line);
Dr. Jeanne Watson, hired in 2005 for $100,936.98, now earns $186,142.62 (10 times the
poverty line);
Dr. Sandy Welsh has benefited from an 11.88% increase since 2011 and now ears
$190,596.50 (over 10 times the poverty line);
Dr. Cheryl Regehr makes roughly $225,033 annually (over 12 times the poverty line); and
Dr. Roberta Fulthorpe's annual salary is approximately $153,488 (8 times the poverty line).
This morning, I received a message from the UofT Bulletin flaunting the university's record as a
top-tier institution and as one of "the best places to work in Canada." It certainly does seem to pay
its employees well. I am, frankly, embarrassed that it does so while so many of its graduate
students, who work hard to strengthen UofT's reputation for excellent scholarship, struggle to make
ends meet.
Let me be clear: this is not merely a priority for graduate students--it is an emergency.
Sincerely yours,
Catherine Schwartz

Dear Sir/Madam,
I would like to pledge my full support for raising the level of minimum funding offered for graduate
students at both the Master's and PhD level. It is fortunate that graduate students are offered
generous tax breaks, university facilities and general benefits. However, the cost of living in this
city is increasing dramatically and it is becoming increasingly difficult to make ends meet. For
example, the average rent for a simple studio apartment in the city center (near university) is close
to $1200-1300/month and hence many students are forced to live outside the city center where the
rent is NOT significantly cheaper. This rising cost applies to other essential expenses such as

utilities, food, transportation, etc. The current level of funding has not been changed since 2008 and
the cost of living and inflation has been constantly rising since then. Hence, I strongly object to
your statement of UTGSU misrepresenting interest of graduate students when this is one of the
major issues. Moreover, other universities in Canada offer much more generous funding packages
that are kept well above the cost of living. Given U of T's reputation and excellence in research, I
would like to believe that they take good care of their students and providing them with adequate
resources financially or otherwise. Therefore, I believe supporting this cause would be of great help
to many graduate students.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
--Name Withheld
Dear members of the Provostial Committee,
I have been a graduate student in UofT from 2008 up to now. Even though the inflation rate has
always been above 1.5% during this period (with the exception of 2009), I have not seen a single
penny of increase in my funding package. Adding this to many other shortcomings that the
government and UofT are imposing on graduate student funding (such as the funding of
international students), I believe UofT will soon loose its attractiveness to students compared with
many other universities such the ones in United States. Moreover, as a graduate student, I have been
struggling to live with the bare minimum support I get from the current funding package. I believe
the funding package has to be dealt with as soon as possible to stop the damage to the reputation of
University of Toronto, as well as the living style of students in this university.
Thanks for your ongoing efforts for the benefit of all the students.
Nima Zareian
PhD Candidate,
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering,
University of Toronto,

Dear all,
I want to affirm my support for a raise in the guaranteed minimum level of funding. This is a
priority for myself and for many other graduate students. As graduate students we are expected to
both work for the university and to produce our own academic work to a very high standard. Our
quality of life and ability to perform this work, however, are hampered and constrained when so
much of our energy is focused on strict and severe budgeting in order to avoid running out of funds.
I myself have often considered discontinuing my PhD due to my quality of life. The amount of
money I currently earn limits my choices in housing, diet, wardrobe etc. to very meager standards. I
avoid taking public transit and do not have the ability to enjoy social events with friends due to my
financial limitations. I find it nearly impossible to visit family during the holidays and must rely on
their assistance in order to do so. Finally, I very nearly ran out of money this summer and had to
rely on help from others, such as moving in with a friend who offered me her guest room. As you
might have gathered, this is not the most pleasant way to live.

As a side note, I have friend who also nearly ran out of money this summer and was in a state of
panic over it.
The image of the starving student subsisting on ramen noodles and sleeping on an old futon might
be romantic for some, but the reality is very unpleasant.
Thank you for your consideration,
--Name Withheld

Dear Committee Members,

I support the request for higher minimum support specifically for students who have had work
experience and/or those who have families or other responsibilities. Professionals returning to
academia may be deterred by the significant drop in income required for a full-time student.
Students with additional responsibilities have to spend a LOT of time applying for scholarships and
awards or working in part-time jobs to supplement the low minimum stipend. These activities are a
distraction from studies.
The academic environment at University of Toronto will likely improve if the minimum stipend
level is increased.
--Name Withheld

Hello Jaby, Jason, and Stephanie

Well, I pay $1200/month in rent. That's $14,400/year, leaving me with $600/year for food, phone,
and other essentials. So clearly, I have to TA so that I can feed myself. Getting TAships in the
summer is difficult to say the least, and dipping into savings is not fun.
Mathematical Approach:
Even if we just took into account inflation since 2008, we should be getting $16,000 (assuming a
compound annual inflation rate of 1.63%). I'm not entirely sure why the committee would claim it
is not a priority for students - we are basically doing research for less than minimum wage. If a PhD
Candidate averages...
40 hours per week: $7.81/hour
36 hours per week: $8.50/hour
30 hours per week: $10.42/hour
The above figures assume a 5 day/week, 48-week work year, which is probably incorrect since
many PhD students usually do research on weekends as well as over Christmas and other holidays.
Unless the committee truly believes that graduate students are putting in less than less than 30.5
hours per week towards meeting their graduate degree requirements, then they should have no
problem providing at least minimum wage for a standard 36 hour work week ($17.7k @ 10.25/hour
for 48 weeks/year). The argument could be made that this is a funding package, and not an
employment package. However, I believe that most professors would not be pleased to find out that

their students are working part-time jobs just to meet basic needs requirements - UofT is, after all, a
research-focused institution.
An increase in the guaranteed minimum level of funding is needed to ensure graduate students can
achieve the basic needs of living in Toronto. The financial landscape has changed since 2008, and
I'd be interested in hearing why the committee believes a $15,000 funding package from 5 years ago
is sufficient in today's Toronto.
--Name Withheld
Hello All,
Boy oh boy: it sure would be great if the Provostial Committee on Graduate Student Financial
Support could raise the minimums with regard to graduate student funding.
I am a 52-year old direct-entry PhD student in my second year at the Centre for Drama, Theatre and
Performance Studies. After a lifetime as a successful freelance actor and playwright, the opportunity
to engage with the academy at this advanced graduate level has been a tremendous experience. The
workload is heavy; the learning curve steep - and it's going so well! I was successful in obtaining an
OGS for this academic year, which has been very helpful and heartening.
I suspect that there are more and more people in my situation at the university: mature (ahem)
students who bring hard-earned knowledge and accomplishment to the institution, even as the
institution nurtures and replenishes our opportunities for learning and advancement. We are a
demographic, however, who also bring adult responsibilities with us. Some of these responsibilities
are financial ones. In order for me to remain in my program, I have had to stretch my time and
energy to the breaking point by maintaining a 'working life' in the commercial arts sector to make
ends meet.
Let me tell you - it ain't pretty some days.
Any and all efforts to raise the funding profile for graduate studies would be greatly appreciated by
students such as me. (Perhaps the traditional image of the burdened young grad student toiling away
at 3 am in Robarts and surviving on coffee and Kraft dinner is in need of a little institutional polish.)
respectfully yours,
Martin Julien
Dear Committee,
the graduate funding is below the poverty line and this fact says enough. However, I would like to
show you my monthly situation as a PhD international student in the first year receiving funding of
16000 CAD yearly.
I was lucky to find the apartment for 700 CAD, small bedroom in shared accommodation. The TTC
transportation is 106 CAD. So from 1333 CAD monthly funding (16000 CAD/12 months) I have
around 500 CAD to fight with food and other life necessarily expenses, Unfortunately, that is
I cannot look for another job because I am 24/7 in my PhD studies and need to do course

assignments and so on. I tried to apply for some funding but the chance is very small.
I am writing this message in the hope that funding will be immediately raised above the poverty
financial line!
If not the situation pushes me to drop my studies and go back to my country.
Kind regards,
--Name Withheld
To Whom it May Concern:
I am writing in support of the initiative to raise minimum funding to graduate students. While
completing my Masters, even with the help of a SSHRC grant, I was working below the poverty
line. This is one of the reasons I am now taking a year off to save money before returning to get my
PhD. I love the program at UofT but, knowing that it will likely offer me the least funding out of all
the schools I am interested in, sadly it might not be a viable option for me anymore. Raising
minimum funding so that students are at least at the poverty line would mean a great deal to me as it
means I could pursue my doctorate at UofT, my first choice.
Thank you for taking the time to consider this.
Lisa Aikman
I am writing today with due respect to the hard work you do and the general good-faith attempts of
the University to fund its graduate students.
That said, as a PhD student I must declare the obvious: for us doctoral students to live and work in
our departments and complete our degrees the funding packages must amount to at least the poverty
Like many who have reached this advanced stage of graduate study in the current educational
economy, I already have onerous student debt coming into the doctoral program. To call a degree
"funded" and then have us graduate students living at below-poverty levels is not only a bit
disgraceful (at this, the most prestigious research institute in Canada), but is financially damaging,
if not prohibitive.
Please consider this, and add my voice to those calling for at least poverty-line funding.
--Name Withheld
Dear GSU committee members,
I am a PhD student at UofT and am writing to voice my support for raising the grad student stipend
to the poverty line level. I was studying in the US before coming here, and my stipend there was
approximately $400 more than it is at UofT. Additionally, life in Toronto is really expensive and one

can barely get by with the stipend we get. There have been occasions were I had to fly back home
due to family medical emergencies and I couldn't go because I simply did not have the $300 I
needed to buy a ticket. I believe that if we want to be considered an internationally competitive
university, we have to raise our stipend levels to what people get abroad. One cannot focus on their
studies when they don't earn enough to get by.
--Name Withheld

To the Provostial Committee for Graduate Student Financial Support:

I hope this finds you well. [withheld for privacy reasons]. I am writing to you to express my
enthusiastic support for increasing the guaranteed minimum funding package to the poverty line. As
an international PhD student who has experienced considerable vulnerability and overwork as a
result of the paltry funding package, I am surprised and dismayed that the GSU's proposal has been
met with reticence.
Academic environments tend to value and expect hypercompetence. In such an environment, it can
be difficult to talk about our vulnerability, particularly under the conditions of a brutal economy. I
was raised to be frugal, and to pride myself on that frugality. So it is not lightly that I must confess
that I have found it extremely difficult to make ends meet in Toronto on the current guaranteed
funding package. My experience of struggle around affording rent and food leads me to urge you to
increase the funding package amount to at least the poverty line.
As an international PhD student, I am ineligible for the vast majority of federal research funding.
Even the Ontario Graduate Scholarship doesn't increase my overall income. This arrangement
leaves me with the guaranteed funding package, which represents an important historic
achievement, but is in 2013 dollars frankly embarrassing for a university of this size and level of
international prestige.
At the end of most months, in the week before I'm paid, I find I have to weigh my options between
owing friends some cash, or going to a food bank. I have consistently had to take on TA work above
and beyond my guaranteed funding in order to make enough to pay my rent, including in the
summer when my primary task was (or should have been) conducting fieldwork. I have worked as
a TA on at least two classes every term since the summer of 2012. While I am always grateful for
opportunities to grow as an educator, teaching takes considerable time and energy, and this has most
certainly taken time away from my research. My commitment to finishing my PhD on time in spite
of these difficulties has taken a toll on my health and relationships.
The truth is I wouldn't be able to pay my rent without without parental support, and the provision of
this support has grown increasingly hard on my parents, both of whom are now retired. I often
wonder about the fate of students who have no such parental support. If U of T is genuinely
committed to equity and accessibility, and to attracting and retaining qualified scholars, regardless
of nationality or economic background, then bringing the dismally low funding package up to at
least the poverty line seems like the least the institution could do.
Given my experiences of precarity on the current funding package, you can imagine how distressed
and puzzled I was to hear of the dismissive reception that my representatives from the Graduate
Students Union received by certain members of your committee during a discussion of legitimate
and pressing concerns about the dismal funding package. I am deeply disappointed to hear that

some committee members have responded not with empathy or curiosity about what surviving on
the funding package is actually like for students, but with quizzical disdain.
Such disconcerting incuriosity and defensiveness does not befit an internationally renowned
research university that prides itself on financial accessibility. I continue to feel grateful for a
students union that gives voice to my concerns and financial struggles as a student, and I would
encourage you to regard requests for an increase in the guaranteed funding package with the
seriousness and urgency such claims merit.
Respectfully yours,
--Name Withheld
Dear Committee,
I am a PhD student and I support of the PCGSFS GSU to increase the minimum level of funding.
As tuition costs increases and cost of living increases the minimum level of funding does not take
into consideration year to year inflation costs and the rise of tuition. Thus, students, like myself,
who initially budget to live on a fixed funding level require to take additional commitments to pay
for the increased costs of living and tuition. Additionally, when student cannot find the time or
opportunity for additional means of income, the economic burden falls on their dependents (i.e.
parents, grandparents, partners) or going into debt with school loans or credit cards.
The academic model of having students live below the poverty line in a city where rent is
continuously increasing, as with the costs of transit, food, utility bills and other basic needs, needs
considerable change. The support of the University of Toronto for increasing the minimum funding
will let students know that their University takes these challenges into consideration and are
supporting students during their graduate training.
I hope you will take the UTGSU's consideration to increase the minimum stipend.
Thank you for your time,
--Name Withheld

Dear PCGSFS Committee,

I am writing to confirm that increasing the minimum level of funding for graduate students is
important to me. As a phd student in the graduate department of rehabilitation sciences, I have
always had to take teaching assistantships or sessional instructor work, or work outside of the
department/university in order to make ends meet. I married with two children, and even with the
support of my husband's salary, we have to work extra in order to allow me to continue my phd. I
cannot think of one year during my degree where we haven't had to discuss whether I can continue
due to funding.
The minimum funding package should not be below the poverty line for a single adult. No one
could make a strong argument as to why students should live below poverty lines. Please consider
this issue seriously, as it would impact each student's life and ability to participate in higher
Thank you,


I have been a graduate student for six years. After spending two years at Queen's University
obtaining a M.Sc, I have begun pursuit of a PhD. here at UofT. While there are numerous
differences between the schools, a constant similarity has been the difficulty of financial planning
around a stipend that is below the poverty line.
Current funding levels are such that even the most prudent financial planners live mouth to hand. In
cases where strategic investment is required, life is almost impossible. Investing in a new computer
becomes a constant battle of saving quarters and dimes. Unexpected failure of such things are
catastrophic. Floating conference attendence costs before the SGS conference grant comes in can be
harrowing. Even expanding my wardrobe, or engaging in normal social functions can be a difficulty
- attending a friend's weddings can require months of savings.
And this does not even factor in the numerous opportunity costs inherent in pursuing higher
academic education. The idea of contributing to my TFSA or RRSP each year is a perennial
difficulty - especially in light of having to balance years of compound interest with budgeting
strategic investments in goods required for my life.
I'm not saying grad students should be paid a wage commensurate with gainful employment.
However, the current model of years spent living an ascetic lifestyle in exchange for the right to
gain entry to the academy is not congruent with the modern world. It also significantly steepens the
price of post-graduate education for marginalized backgrounds or even those from nonaffluent families.
Even just acknowledging the need for revision of funding after five years would be a step in the
right direction. However, you should go further than that. In reality, excellent grad students are the
strength of any university - and the academy at large. UofT should move to support us fully. Making
sure our stipends match the costs of living at the line of poverty would be a start.
Brenden A Hurley

To Whom it May Concern,

I am writing in support of the GSU's pursuit of an increase to the current guaranteed minimum level
of funding for graduate students. As graduate studies are better seen as part of an individual's career
than as further schooling, it is inappropriate to set this rate any lower than the poverty line. (For that
matter, I believe most scholars would consider the work undertaken in academic institutions a good
deal more essential to an exceptional society than the valuation betrayed by the meager reward of
poverty-line wages.) The demands made on an individual are at least as time-intensive as a 40-hour
work weekof which I have personally worked many; it is therefor unsupportable to expect
graduate students to work outside of school, especially when a large portion of the funding
packages already provided by this institution is tied to TA dutiesa further investment of time
students often do not have.
Thank you for considering my thoughts on this serious matter,

Scott Hanenberg
2nd year M.A. in Musicology
University of Toronto

To Whom It May Concern,

I know that this email comes after the requested date, but I am sure that the conversation is ongoing
-- so, I wish to contribute my own thoughts to that conversation, even if somewhat belatedly.
My name is Myrto Koumarianos, and I am a second-year student at the Centre for Drama, Theatre
and Performance Studies and the Women and Gender Studies Institute. As co-president of the
DCSU (our graduate student union) this year I know that we have sent forth a formal letter, as well
as that a number of my colleagues, our students, have written individually.
I want to add, briefly, my own support to the issues here, as well as my assurance to you that every
single one of my colleagues with whom I have spoken (whether they had a chance to write about it
or not) agree that we are in desperate straits for more funding support.
The letter the DCSU drafted outlines our funding structure, amounts, and monthly break-down, but
as you must obviously recognize, the amount outlined for rent there ($700/month for shared
accommodations) is actually very very conservative given the realities of the city of Toronto.
I, for example, live alone, but I live in a basement (as I could find nothing below this price above
ground, even in shared accommodations); I am quite far from campus, and still I pay $900/month. I
then have to buy my TTC pass ($106), and after these two payments I am down to *less* than $250
to live on for the month. This is to cover: cellphone (minimal plan, no fancy data and such), internet
(no cable: that's also too fancy, and I have no time besides), ink and paper (or pay exorbitant
printing prices at the library), and (oh yeah...) groceries. I'm not even concerned here about buying
clothes (though winter-boots might be nice), or going out to socialize and find some balance for
sanity's sake (though my basement gets very oppressive very quickly). Usually by the 15th of the
month I am down to single digits in my accounts (with bills still pending, since I have accumulated
loans and credit card debt from my ongoing studies over the past decade). I have had to take out an
emergency loan from SGS on two occasions, and I have had to borrow from friends and relatives
repeatedly. Friends have confirmed similar experiences, and although we tend to laugh it off, as
though it is a common joke, it is anything but funny! I am an adult, and have been for a long while
now, and I am being made to feel by all of this like an exorbitant and spoiled (and thus punished?)
child. I recognize the romanticism of the rhetoric that the student-years should be tough, but our
very dignity and integrity are on the line, and I find nothing romantic about it.
Why do the student years have to be "tough"? Why should I, as I seriously commit to and prepare to
embark on the research that will launch my career, which will in turn support the education of
further generations of Canadians, producing intelligent, moral, and useful citizens of the world, and
furthering this institution's prestige and standing internationally, be punished and humbled, hungry,
tired, and reduced to asking for handouts? Why should I be doing work for free, taking away time
both from my own research (which magically has to be completed within 4.5 years, before even this
minimal "funding" itself runs dry) and from the possibility of at least waiting tables to supplement
my insufficient funding? Do you think it will encourage honest and proud scholarship if we are
treated like beggars? Is quality (or pride or excellence) of any value? If so, I think a re-evaluation is
in order of the support that is proffered to us in order to give us the tools necessary to succeed in our
own name and in the name of the university we are (have been, want to continue to be) so proud to
be a part of!

I thank you for reading my letter. It is long and passionate, but I have found myself truly distressed
and humiliated by my conditions too often lately... I really believe in what I am doing and I resent
being made to feel like education, research, and a desire to make and share knowledge is a luxury in
one of the richest countries in our world!
Most sincerely,
Myrto Koumarianos
PhD Student, Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies
and Women and Gender Studies Institute
University of Toronto

Dear Committee Members,

I am writing this e-mail in support of the UTGSU members on the Provostial Committee in raising
the guaranteed minimum level of funding for graduate students. I do not believe that graduate
students should be forced to live paycheck to paycheck, or seek external forms of employment
while pursuing their graduate degree. This will only take time away from their studies, elongating
their time to completion. This IS a priority issue for graduate students, and should not be
Thank you for your time.
--Name Withheld

Members of the Provostial Committee for Graduate Student Financial Support,

I am writing to you to express my concern that the Committee might not regard guarantying a
minimum stipend matching the poverty line for the graduate students of the University of Toronto
as an absolute priority. I strongly believe that this issue is of prime interest for most, if not all,
graduate students.
Through my many years as a graduate student, first as a Masters student and now as a Ph.D.
student visiting and working at several universities and departments in North America, a guaranteed
stipend that would cover for the basic necessities of life was always among the main subjects
discussed by graduate students. Although most of my peers are highly driven and dedicated
individuals moved primarily by their passion for research, not having enough money to cover the
cost of living does weight a lot in their decision to take on a Ph.D. program and often comes back as
a major point for senior graduate students to question whether undertaking a graduate program was
the right decision for them.
By the end of their graduate program, most students will be in their late 20s or early 30s and will
have no money to back their future plans, despite having lived a very frugal life for the previous
five to ten years. I can personally testify of this. Being married and the father of a young baby, I
couldnt imagine pursuing my studies in a context that would jeopardize the future of my family.
My wife, who is also a graduate student at UofT, and I hold scholarships that ease our financial
burden but we still live on a tight budget. Lucky for me, my Department also guarantees a minimal
stipend that is lower but close to the line of poverty and that is raised every year to compensate for

increases in the cost of living and tuition fees.

I would urge the Committee to work toward an increase in the guaranteed minimum level of
funding for graduate students to match the present poverty line and make this issue one of its
--Name Withheld

Good afternoon,
I am a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto, and I would like to
add my voice to the many others that have requested that the guaranteed minimum level of Ph.D.
funding be raised to a level equivalent to the poverty line. It is unclear to me how anyone could
believe that this issue is not a priority for graduate students, many of whom have to work several
jobs, in addition to doing coursework and research, in order to make ends meet. This causes
students to take more time to finish their graduate degrees, and it seems clear that students and the
administration alike would benefit from students' ability to finish their degrees in less time.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
Best regards,
--Name Withheld

Dear committee members:

I am dismayed to hear from my UTGSU representatives on the PCGSFS that some of you do not
think graduate students care about whether or not the minimum level of funding for graduate
students is above the poverty line. I want to state unequivocally that this issue is a very big priority
for myself and all graduate students at the University of Toronto.
Although not all students are aware of what poverty line is in Toronto, we all know what it feels like
to have to struggle financially in order to remain committed and involved in our respective
communities as we engage in graduate studies at the University of Toronto. For any student who has
struggled to pay rent, has had to live in cramped living quarters, who has to sacrifice a healthy diet
in order to be able to afford groceries and who knows what it feels like to not be able to participate
in social events in their community because they cannot afford them, this issue is a priority.
When you offer a student a funding level that is below the poverty wage, you don't allow them the
option of using wise financial planning and careful budgeting to live with in their means - instead,
they are unable to cover their basic expenses and are forced to live in less-than-acceptable
circumstances and accrue large debts on top of already staggering student loans they may have
incurred in order to complete an undergraduate degree. The fact that you don't all see a living wage
to be your priority as a committee in charge of graduate student funding is discouraging, as it shows
that you don't recognize the contribution that graduate students make to the research community at
University of Toronto, without which this school could never be a world-class research institute.

I hope you will carefully consider the plight of graduate students who are under-funded. What you
may consider to be an issue that we don't care about is actually a matter of students not knowing
that they don't need to be content with so little pay. We are motivated individuals who feel driven to
do research and to become experts in our respective fields. Although many of us are willing to live
in poverty in order to achieve our goals in education and research, this does not absolve the
University of their duty to ensure that no student needs to descend to poverty in order to contribute
to the research community.
Anton Lodder
M.A.Sc. Candidate, Energy Systems Group
Dept. Electrical & Computer Engineering

Dear Provostial Committee for Graduate Student Financial Support,

I am writing to state my full support for the work being done to raise the guaranteed minimum
funding package to meet the poverty line.
As an international student, I am barred from pursuing additional work off campus, as well as from
applying for student loans or for SSHRC, as well as many other awards and grants. This means that
my alternatives for gaining additional funding are very limited. When I did get awarded an OGS
one year, the department absorbed the funding and I received only a small "top-up," so the
scholarship is mainly valuable in symbolic terms and not for financial reasons.
I have also noticed that since I started as a PhD student at UofT in 2011, my tuition fees have
continued to rise every year by about $900. My funding package has been raised to just cover this
difference, however, it seems to me that the fact that tuition is rising suggests that the funding
package should be adapting to the state of the market as well.
My husband, a Canadian and a graduate student as well, has for several years now had to take out
student loans to help support us both, putting himself deep into debt and causing us both anxiety
over our future.
As two humanities students, we face additional obstacles. When we went to our bank to try to get a
"graduate student" line of credit, we were told that these aren't available to humanities students.
Neither of us have particularly well-off families (my husband is of a very working-class
background, the first in his family to get a post-secondary degree), and they are only able to help us
in a limited fashion (for ex., my husband's family couldn't co-sign for him on a line of credit; my
family, not being Canadian, is excluded for that reason). In past summers, my husband has gone to
work with his father and brother selling shop equipment to help make ends meet. This has made it
challenging for him to stay abreast of his dissertation work.
Simply put, the funding package makes it difficult for us to focus primarily on our studies, which is
a necessary part of a successful PhD. Instead we constantly have to worry not only about money for
food, rent, transit, living, etc., today, but about the real possibility that our academic commitments
now are going to leave us significantly indebted well into the future.
--Name Withheld

Dear Provostial committee,

I am a grad student in the Dept of ECE and am writing this to express my support as part of the
graduate student community to the efforts by UTGSU for raising the guaranteed funding which has
not been revised since 2008.
I feel strongly about this as it is from my experience and from my friends about me that I have come
to see that the funding available currently is barely sufficient to survive in a city like Toronto and
that it is actually not to the help of productivity if students are extremely frugal and devoid of
activities outside the academic sphere.
--Name Withheld

To the Provostial Committee for Graduate Student Financial Support,

I am writing to you on behalf of the Aerospace Student's Association to let you know that we fully
support the efforts of the UTGSU members on the committee to see graduate student funding raised
up to the poverty line. This is important for our student constituents, for whom it has been a halfdecade since the funding package was updated while the prices of rent, food, and all the other
essentials of life march on upwards. This is also important for the Institute for Aerospace Studies,
which cannot continue to attract the best students from around the world if it lacks a funding
package that provides them a living wage in return for their hard and valuable work.
Thank you for your time and feel free to contact me if you have any questions about our position on
this pivotal issue.
The Aerospace Student's Association.

Dear members of the Provostial Committee for Graduate Student Financial Support,
As a graduate student at the University of Toronto, I support the efforts of the UTGSU to raise the
minimum funding package to the poverty line. I consider the issue of graduate student funding to be
a priority and feel that the UTGSU appropriately represents my concerns in this matter. I've moved
5 times in the last 3 years of my graduate studies, because our current funding package simply can't
afford living in a city like Toronto. An average shared condo apartment costs anywhere from $8001200 a month in rent. The cheapest location I found within 20 minutes walking distance to campus
was $600 a month plus utilities, and I left because it was infested with mice and black mold. The
average number of years to graduate is 5-6 years, and we are only funded for 4. It's extremely hard
to save money to support myself in my last years of graduate school under these conditions.
Please consider these financial burdens on graduate students, and make raising the guaranteed
minimum level of funding a priority.
--Name Withheld

I took the funding halfway through year 2 of my doctoral program as I had previously been working
full-time (and therefore declined the funding package). I am now in my 3rd year and, as a family,
we are struggling financially as a result of the low level of funding provided. As doctoral students,
we are restricted on how much we can work in order to protect our time so that we are successful in
our studies, yet the funding package is below poverty. For graduate students who have families,
there is just not enough money to make ends meet.
Please consider raising the minimum level of funding for graduate students.
--Name Withheld

I am writing with strong support for the UTGSU Provostial Committee for Graduate Student
Financial Support members' request to raise the guaranteed minimum funding level to meet the
poverty line.
Given the demands and responsibilities of graduate level work - even at its most basic level - it is
more than unreasonable to expect students to take on even more work to earn their minimum
livelihood. Graduate students are, as it is, working beyond capacity. This has a direct impact on the
quality of our work, our involvement and initiative in the community and by extension on the
University of Toronto's strength in its global standing.
It is an embarrassment to the University of Toronto's public image to be in a position for its
graduate students to have to make the request for poverty line funding.
To assume that this is not a matter of priority for graduate students is rather disrespectful and
ignorant of the fact that the program demands are such that the matters most pressing to their
individual needs are neglected in order to make sure course work,lesson planning, grading etc.,
administrative duties etc. do not suffer.
Please make the change immediately.
--Name Withheld

Dear PCGSFS members, & whomever it may concern,

I am writing in strong support of the UTGSU's efforts on the Provostial Committee of Graduate
Students Financial Support with regard to raising the level of minimum funding for graduate
students. Before I lay out my reasons for this, I would like to direct a (somewhat rhetorical)
question to those Committee members who hold the belief that raising minimum funding levels is
not a priority for graduate students: are you serious? Do you imagine that there is any other issue
(amongst those pertaining to relations between the University and its graduate students) which

graduate students would collectively prefer be pursued?

Broadly, my thoughts on this are based on the $15,000 level of minimum after-tuition funding as it
pertains to a student living in Toronto. Consider first that this is well below the poverty line.
Considering the central role that graduate students play in producing original research and
furthering the University's international reputation, does it really seem adequate to pay graduate
students at such a low level?
In a city with very low costs of living, such a low level of funding might fly, but Toronto is on the
opposite end of that spectrum, having some of the highest costs of living in Canada. Housing
alone can easily cost $15,000 per year, if not more (it is certainly more in my case); after this, at a
bare minimum there is the cost of food. The University of Waterloo estimates costs of living of upto
$24,000 for graduate students in Waterloo, where the cost of living is significantly lower than in
Toronto. By seriously underpaying graduate students here, there develops a serious disincentive to
pursue graduate studies, and it certainly makes it extremely difficult for those with less fortunate
socioeconomic backgrounds.
Lastly, inflation (as measured by the CPI) has been around 8% since the $15,000 figure was decided
in 2008. Even under the dubious (see above) assumption that the amount was adequate back in
2008, this no longer holds true in 2013. Since graduate students are generally tied in to programs of
at least four years, it's clearly important to adjust this to the increase in the cost of living. I'm sure
you assumed such an increase when you negotiated your own salaries.
Returning to my opening point: I hope it is clear that U of T graduate students do indeed consider
funding levels a priority; and I further hope that it is no longer deemed necessary to come up with
such an absurd hypothesis to avoid dealing with the important issues raised by those representing us
on the PCGSFS.
--Name Withheld

Dear Provostial Committee for Graduate Student Financial Support,

I am writing to you to express my support for increasing the minimum guaranteed funding to at
least the poverty line. As it stands, I perceive the cost of living to be a significant barrier to my
research productivity and success as a graduate student. Our department's guaranteed funding
package for Master's students is $16,000 and made up of a stipend/fellowship and an assigned TA
position (I have attached my own funding breakdown to demonstrate). Tuition is deducted from this
leaving roughly $7,500-7,600 for cost of living, and this amount is declining significantly as tuition
levels steadily increase.
The average rental cost for a single bedroom apartment rental in Toronto within walking distance of
the school is between $900-$1000/month. Sharing an apartment and/or selecting one of dubious
quality can bring this to $600-$700/month. This is significantly higher than the rental cost in every
other city in Ontario, and is an associated cost for any student who has had to move to Toronto in
order to pursue their degree at Canada's leading research institution. Even at a low, and almost
mythical, estimate of $600/month my funding package would barely cover a year of rent.
In order to compensate for this I have had seek part-time jobs throughout my graduate studies,
taking time away from my research, and adding the pressure of having to compete for jobs. I have

no problem with working for my fair share, but productivity is lost and economic stress is further
compounded when faced with uncertainty. Currently, in addition to the 80h of TA work allocated to
me by my departmental funding package, I have been employed for another 85h of TA hours
through other departments.
Due to the uncertainty of post-doctoral and long-term positions after graduation, unlike professional
schools, student loans from banks are sub-optimal solutions to this dilemma. When we win major
external awards, government funding options like OSAP, no longer become an option, despite the
minor impact the awards have on our funding package (compare my 2012 funding breakdown to
2013 with an OGS award).
My peers put in at least 40h of work per week in the office or lab, and then many of us return home
to work on our academic endeavours, or those additional responsibilities assigned to us as part of or
funding packages. This poverty of both time and money leads many to engage in unhealthy
behaviours such as sleep deprivation, meal skipping, or living in unhealthy (likely illegal) housing
conditions to save costs - despite many of us wanting to become leaders in health research. We are
passionate, hard working individuals. Increasing our funding recognizes our efforts and motivation
to become the best in our respective fields, and will prevent the loss of great minds to other
Thank you for your time and for further consideration of increasing graduate student funding.
Mark Duncan
-Mark Duncan
M.Sc. Candidate - Exercise Science
University of Toronto

I am writing in support of those who are pushing for an increase of the minimum funding package.
Access to education should be a priority, a right, and not a privilege, and while this issue speaks to
larger, systemic problems of institutional and educational mismanagement--an increase to our
minimum funding package also contributes to this cause in recognizing and supporting students.
I am a first-year PhD student. I am a queer and trans person of colour. I come from an immigrant,
working-class family background. I am a first-generation student. I mention these details to stress
how systemic violence, racism, and injustice are marked on bodies that do not benefit from the
status quo. I cannot so easily turn to my family for financial and academic cultural support--nor can
many other people of colour, queer people, trans people, and/or people from working-class families,
and/or people with disabilities But I am not solely pushing this as a personal problem. I am one of
two people of colour in my cohort. . For many of us, there is no institutional memory, no networks
of mobility, no financial safety nets. People of colour across an intersectional axis (ability, gender,
class) are financially disadvantaged--where we are paid less, find it harder to procure employment
because, or because jobs are circulated in networks of white people. Education in humanities is thus
already a more precarious route for people of colour across intersectional axes and if we, as students
and scholars in the humanities, health, science, and other fields, are committed to studying
literature, philosophy, theory, discourses of power, violence, colonialism, hegemony, healing the
body discursively, physically, and mentally, then we should also begin to embody such things and

provide the material means for those to gain access and live in systems that would otherwise be
limiting to them. With increasing tuition standards, costs of living, access to education becomes
farther and farther for some of us. Although it won't solve the more pressing problem of access to
education, an increase in funding would at least help soften financial problems and also ensure that
university studies can be viable options for people who are otherwise disadvantaged. Any kind of
momentum in providing access to education is our priority.
With all my best,
--Name Withheld

I hope you're all well.
I am writing to highlight how crucial the issue of raising graduate minimum funding packages to the
poverty line is. In fact, it concerns me deeply that members of this committee do not think this is a
priority issue for graduate students. I can't understand how anyone could be living on $15,000 a
year in Toronto without any time for work outside of the university, and think this is reasonable. It
makes it especially difficult (and ultimately, inaccessible) for people who come from backgrounds
with lower socio-economic status, or who have dependents.
As someone who does not have a cushion to fall back on, I am struggling to pay rent, eat, and get
around this city on the minimum funding package, which works out to $1,250 a month. After
paying rent and bills, this leaves very little money leftover (and I live with two other people!),
especially when we need to buy books, pay for transcripts, etc.
There is no doubt that I will inevitably accrue debt if I don't receive an increase in my funding. The
only alternative I have is to work outside of the university, which will simply prolong the length of
my degree, beyond the length of my funding package. Clearly, this is not an appropriate solution,
but the thought of my current financial situation adds a lot of stress to my life, which has an impact
on my studies and needs to be addressed one way or another.
If you are not personally negatively affected by the minimum funding package, I ask you to please
consider how others may experience this, especially those of us who are not from Toronto, and who
do not have financial safety nets. Please consider graduate students who have children, or who take
care of their family members. If the funding situation is not addressed (to at least meet the poverty
line!!) then it means that pursuing a degree at U of T becomes increasingly inaccessible for people
who come from lower socio-economic backgrounds, and ensures that a graduate education here is
not about your strength as a scholar; it is about how much money you have. Simply put, it boils
down to class politics.
Again, I ask you to please consider how important this issue is even if it doesn't affect you directly.
I would also like to note that expressing your financial situation to people you don't know in this
way is not an easy or comfortable thing to do. So, for all of the stories that you receive, there are
likely many, many more of them out there.
Many thanks for reading,
--Name Withheld

To Whom it May Concern,

I would like to express my support for increasing the minimum stipend for graduate students to the
current Toronto poverty level, at the very least. Not only will it help the current students who work
very hard for their stipend, many such as myself who are mature students with family and/or
mortgage financial responsibilities in one of the most expensive cities in North America, it will help
U of T! The calibre of graduate student currently at U of T is excellent, but how many more
excellent students decided not to apply to or attend this institution because they could not afford it?
Continuing to attract the best in the country, and world, can only raise U of T's status on the
international stage, which in turn will provide further funding for U of T.
Raising the annual stipend is an investment in the brightest and best of the future that will provide
returns in the end. Thank you for your serious consideration of this matter.
--Name Withheld

Dear PCGSFS Committee Members,

I am writing this email to express my complete support in the campaign to increase minimum
graduate funding to at least the poverty line.
At present, graduate students are being forced to live below the poverty line; an inexcusable
violation of human rights. Poverty is defined as the condition of a human being who is deprived of
the resources, means, choices and power necessary to acquire and maintain economic selfsufficiency and participation in society (Qubec Bill 112: An Act to combat poverty and social
exclusion). The fact that the University of Toronto is facilitating this situation in 2013 is
Many students, including myself, depend on the guaranteed funding to support themselves
throughout their graduate studies. For those in full-time programs, it necessitates students to either
commit to long-term debt, or secure part-time work in order to simply 'make ends meet'. In my
opinion and experience, part-time work during full-time study can only compromise productivity
and quality of work completed. The majority of my study-work weeks are 7-day weeks that leave
me exhausted and frustrated; knowing that I could achieve so much more given higher financial
Increasing the minimum graduate funding would enable students to access 'resources, means,
choices and power' to live independently and without compromising on the quality of their studies
or a minimum quality of life. It would allow part-time workers to focus wholly on their studies,
increase their productivity, and potentially reduce the time to completion for PhD candidates.
Ultimately, graduate departments would be investing in an initial increase in funding, in order to
enhance quality of work completed over a shorter time span. Furthermore, it would be a step in the
right direction in bringing graduate students at the University of Toronto to an economic level that
is acceptable in society.
I urge you to consider the issue of graduate funding as a priority issue for graduate students, or at
the very least, walk a day in my shoes.

--Name Withheld

Dear Provostial Committee for Graduate Student Financial Support,

My name is Mehdi Saffarian, PhD candidate with the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
Department. I would also like to indicate that I was a candidate in the GSU election who lost my bid
for the Academic and Funding commissionaire of the Unit 3 and 4. I am glad to see the current team
are pursuing one of the causes that I ran for the office. In the recent email from the graduate student
members of this committee, it has been noted that some of the other members: do not believe
raising the guaranteed minimum level of funding is a priority for graduate students. It also seems
that they think we are misrepresenting you by claiming that this issue is a priority issue for graduate
students. The student members of this committee asked for the input from graduate students to
inform the committee about the validity of such claims. I would like to express that they do
represent my concerns in this regard and I think what the graduate student members of this
committee are pursuing has a top priority. The cost of living at the city of Toronto is extremely high
and have been increased for the past 6 years. However the minimum funding package remained
constant during the same period. I should say that GSU representative in your committee are
following a good cause in their negotiation within the committee and I hope you give a due
consideration to their proposal.
This discussion of support also occurs at a time that I think none of us have any doubt that the
backbone of the research produced at the University of Toronto is the work of the graduate students.
Graduate students also play an insurmountable role in the teaching activities of this university. I
would like to face this committee with a question that why some of its members they think that the
minimum guaranteed funding package (or living allowance) should not be increased or its increase
is not a priority? Do the respected members of the committee know a magic way to have food and
shelter with 15,000 / year in the city of Toronto at the fixed price of 2008 without facing more and
more hardship? While the salaries of all the respected faculty members and staff keep being
increased with the inflation and beyond, why they think it is not a priority to bring the minimum
funding support to the poverty level?
I think the faculty and the university management should be the one that support the proposed
increase and explain why it has not happened so far. I would like to remind that the guaranteed
funding package has been introduced by one of your colleagues, Professor Adel Sadra to enhance
experience of UofT graduate experience. I hope the current committee avoid further erosion of this
Mehdi Saffarian

Dear Committee Members,

Since there has not been enough CUPE3902 Unit 1 meetings to actually follow what you as a
committee are doing, I would strongly demand that we host a special Unit 1 meeting to discuss the
work of your committee and to vote on how you are proceeding. Your committee is supposed to act
as a democratic and transparent committee accountable directly to the CUPE3902 and GSU

It has come to my attention that the CUPE3902 reps on the Committee are not advocating for an
increase in the minimum funding package as a major priority. I'm not sure why that would be the
case since our current funding levels are currently under the poverty line. The funding package
must be brought up past the poverty line and indexed to inflation/cost of living. Moreover, our
unions needs to go on strike, only if necessary, to remove taxable RAships from the funding
package like it used to be when I entered my programme (this is a major issue in the social sciences
and humanities where these taxable RAships are paid work for a prof's research rather than
receiving a scholarship or equivalent to a RAship in the sciences to work on your own work. This
amounted to a loss of $3000 per year x 5 years = $15,000 during our last round of bargaining).
Frankly, TAships should also be removed from the funding package. The automatic Doctoral Grant
should be reinstated. And post-residency fee levels should be implemented.
Please work with the CUPE3902 executive to schedule a Unit 1 immediately. I would like to have
ALL the committee members invited (GSU reps as well whether or not they are CUPE3902
cc: Chair of CUPE 3902; Internal Officer CUPE3902
James Nugent
PhD Candidate
Department of Geography and Planning

To Whom it May Concern,

I am writing this email to make apparent that raising the minimum level of funding to the poverty
line is a priority for me, as a graduate student.
As a student with a disability, I face unique challenges, specifically when it come to the workplace.
Being at school for 40+ hours a week, takes a significant toll on my body, thus making it nearly
impossible for me to go and find a part time job that could allow me to make ~$19,000. Not to
mention that making so little money makes it difficult to plan for the future. The nature of my
disability will not allow me to have children into my 30's, forcing an extremely complicated
decision on me-- have children and give up my desire for a career in academia (because with such
little money I can barely support myself, let alone a child) or not have children and focus on a
career in academia. I do not feel that this decision should ever have to be put on anyone, especially
considering the amount we, as graduate students, do.
I hope those on the committee can recognize the importance associated with this and how it would
improve the lives of graduate students.
Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this email.
All the best,
Jessica Arteaga
MSc Candidate
Department of Earth Sciences

Hello everybody,
I just want to support the UTGSU request for increasing the minimum funding for graduate students
to the poverty line. Before I came to UofT, I was planning to go to Stanford, where I had an admit
offer since February 2013. One of the reasons I chose to come to University of Toronto is because
of the fact that I will not have to take a loan to complete my studies. But when I came here, I learnt
that the cost of living is very high, and I am finding it a bit difficult to manage with what I am
getting at present. I am from Civil Engineering department, and even our TA-ship is counted in
the minimum guaranteed package, which I find a bit unjustifiable when compared to other
departments. Please take heed to UTGSU's request, and increase our funding, at least to the poverty
line, so that we can focus on our academics and research, instead of worrying about how we are
going to pay our next rent.
Thank you.
--Name Withheld

Dear Committee Members,

I am writing in support of an increase in minimum funding levels for graduate students.
My current funding level, after tuition and fees are paid, works out to $15,000 / year or $1,250
month. Given the high cost of living in Toronto, after rent and utilities, I am left with just $400 each
month (and I live in a basement studio apartment). Out of this, I have to budget food, transit
expenses, clothing and all discretionary expenses.
What does this mean? I can't afford to buy a transit pass, which means I'll have to walk 40 minutes
to campus each way, once winter comes and I can't bike. I can rarely eat out on campus so I have to
budget time to cook and often only have time to eat once a day at home. These sorts of challenges
all mean less time that I can spend on classes and research. Things would be far more difficult if I
were a student with a family. An increase in minimum funding levels would mean a great deal to
students like me.
--Name Withheld