This election campaign, the focus of the three major parties has been on jobs and the economy. Somewhat disappointingly, the role of higher education as an important economic contributor has not been acknowledged, and the issues and challenges facing our universities have not received adequate attention from any of the parties in their platforms.
Nonetheless, OCUFA has conducted an analysis of the three major parties’ platforms to assess where each of the parties stand on important issues for the higher education sector. Each platform was analyzed according to five key criteria. When it comes to higher education, the ideal platform would:
- Increase per-student funding to bring it in line with the national average, allowing institutions to pursue their core functions – teaching and research – free of financial strain;
- Provide funding to hire adequate faculty to bring the student-faculty ratio in Ontario in line with the national average, while addressing the increasing precarity of academic work;
- Introduce measures to control the cost and ensure the accessibility of high quality higher education for students;
- Protect the collective bargaining rights of faculty and faculty associations across Ontario;
- Provide the legislative space for the university sector to develop pension solutions that will ensure the fairness and long-term sustainability of pension plans in the sector.
In our analysis of the Ontario PC Party platform, we highlight the impact of the party’s proposal to eliminate 100,000 public sector jobs in the university sector, their pledge to eliminate the 30 per cent off tuition grant, as well as their proposals relating to pensions and labour relations.
In our analysis of the Ontario New Democratic Party platform, we acknowledge the positive effect their proposal to freeze tuition would have on the affordability of higher education, but raise concerns that the platform does not allocate adequate funding to compensate universities for lost tuition revenue.
In our analysis of the Ontario Liberal Party platform, we provide an overview of all of the party’s promises relating to higher education and pensions, but note that the real and pressing issue of underfunding is not addressed.
All of the platform analyses are available under the “Resources” tab on the OCUFA election webpage.