The 2017 Ontario Budget failed to make much-needed investments in the province’s universities. This continued underfunding threatens the quality of education and will cause Ontario to fall even further behind other provinces in public per-student funding.
The budget includes no new university operating funding for the next three years. Adjusted for inflation, this will amount to a six per cent funding decline in real terms and means that the major investments made through the government’s 2006 Reaching Higher framework will have been effectively reversed by 2019. This represents a troubling erosion of public financial support for Ontario’s universities.
There were no major new announcements about postsecondary education or the Changing Workplaces Review, however, some modest commitments were made to expand workplace learning opportunities for students and improve the recently overhauled student assistance program. These commitments reflect the government’s stated approach to transforming the postsecondary education system by focusing on preparing students for a changing economy and increasing access.