Every election, OCUFA asks Ontario’s leading political parties to fill out a questionnaire on issues important to professors and academic librarians in Ontario. It is a chance for each party to outline their plans for higher education and labour relations. Today, we are pleased to release the results of the 2014 survey.
Here are some select highlights from each party:
Green Party of Ontario (read the full response)
- The Green Party pledges to increase university and college operating budgets (by an unspecified amount) while freezing tuition, all within the context of a multi-year funding plan.
- They will convert education tax credits into up-front, needs-based grants for students.
- The Green Party belives that reforms to retirement security and pensions are best handled at the federal level.
- They promise to review recent changes to teacher training in Ontario, and make reforms “to the benefit of all parties.”
Ontario Liberal Party (read the full response)
- The Liberals tout their announced 1 per cent yearly increase to university funding over the next three years, and their commitment to funding $500 million in deferred maintenance at Ontario’s universities.
- The 30 per cent off tuition grant will continue.
- They suggest that their push for differentiation and “centres of excellence” will help universities attract top quality faculty. In addition, they promise to fund 15,000 new undergraduate spaces, and indicate that this will include funding for more professors.
- The Liberals will continue with policies – such as solvency relief – designed to improve the sustainability of university pension plans
Ontario New Democratic Party (read the full response)
- The NDP will freeze tuition fees and provide and unspecified amount of compensatory funding to universities.
- They will make Ontario student loans interest free.
- The NDP will bring in a variety of labour reforms, including successor rights in the contract sector; the provision of an additional route to binding arbitration on the first contract; changes in reinstatement procedures during an organizing campaign; neutral off-site voting and electronic voting for certification; and access to binding arbitration for either party in prolonged strike situations.
- They will create 1,000 new teacher positions, and respect university teacher training programs as “partners, not left scrambling to deal with major policy shifts.”
Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario (read full response)
- The PC Party responded with a form letter that did not address our questionnaire.
From the party responses, it seems that most of the parties have quite a lot to say about the future of higher education in Ontario. It is therefore a shame that it has not been more of a focus in the election or in their platforms. All of the party leaders are keen to talk about jobs and the economy, but have so far publicly ignored our job-creating, fairness-building universities.