Cutting through the Ontario budget chatter

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There has been a deluge of provincial budget-related news over the past few weeks. With all of the leaks, accusations, and revelations, it is difficult to know exactly what is going. Here at OCUFA, we’re working to separate the signal from the noise.

The stakes are high with the upcoming budget, as it is widely expected that the NDP and PC will defeat it and trigger an election. So, the budget timeline is in effect an election timeline. Earlier this week, several confidential budget documents were leaked.  These documents suggested that the budget would be introduced on May 1, 2014. This confirms what OCUFA has been hearing from its sources. It is therefore likely that the budget will arrive within a week of May 1 – either on April 24th or May 8th.

There is an outside chance that the NDP will decide to support the budget. In which case, the opposition will not have another opportunity to topple the government until fall 2014.

The Liberal government has hinted that the budget will continue to make the elimination of the deficit a goal, but will make modest investments in areas important to economic growth (likely infrastructure and education).  In recent public comments, both Premier Kathleen Wynne and Finance Minister Charles Sousa have emphasized the need for “balance.” They have also been pushing the message that the Liberals are the “steady hand” that Ontario needs, while the opposition parties are “reckless.”

Ontario continues to be in a difficult financial situation. It is clear that government revenue is lower than projected, due in no small part to their unwillingness to look at ways of generating additional income. It is therefore unlikely that the budget will contain significant new funding for higher education. Nevertheless, OCUFA will continue to argue for long-term, visionary investment in universities and colleges to hire more full-time faculty, freeze tuition fees, and improve the quality of education.

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