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CAUT Bulletin Archives

April 2012

Funding Shortfall in Ontario Budget

Needing one of the opposition parties to support its provin­cial budget tabled March 27, the Onta­rio Liberal government announced both a rate freeze on social assistance payments and a one-year stay on further reducing corporate taxes from 11.5 to 11 per cent.

The Progressive Conservatives outright rejected the budget, while the New Democratic Party offer­ed some amendments that would allow it to vote in favour.

With the Liberal’s plan to balance the budget, provisions for universities were limited — a move that flies in the face of proposals laid out in a report Ontario commissioned recently with economist Dan Drummond.

“If you look behind the numbers in the budget, the government is providing less money to universities than recommended by Drummond,” said Constance Adamson, president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations.

University operating funding will increase by $46 million, or a tiny one per cent — well below inflation and well below the growth in enrolment need across the province.

“University education is one of the best investments a government can make to promote economic growth,” Adamson said. “It’s too bad the government has missed this important fact in their deficit reduction strategy.”

The budget also upholds tuition fee increases of five per cent and cuts nine student scholarship and assistance programs.

“This budget further downloads costs onto students, contributes to a cumulative tuition fee increase of up to 71 per cent since 2006 and eliminates grants that help Ontario’s poorest students,” said Sandy Hudson, chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario.

“Despite having been elected on the promise to reduce college and undergraduate tuition fees by 30 per cent, ‘Education Premier’ Dalton McGuinty continues to betray students through schemes, tuition fee increases and cuts to accessibility programs.”

According to the CFS, Ontario has the lowest provincial funding per student in the country, and the highest tuition at $6,640 for undergraduate students and $7,578 for graduate students in 2011–2012.

The budget blueprint also signals the government’s interest in sector-wide bargaining, pension reform and steering compensation settlements.

“We will hold the government to their promise that they will consult meaningfully on pensions, compensation and bargaining,” said OCUFA’s Adamson.

“If the outcome is predetermined, then there is no point consulting. But if they really want to work with the sector, professors and academic librarians are ready as always with ideas and insights that promote fair and responsible collective bargaining.”