This week, Minister of Finance Charles Sousa confirmed May 1, 2014 as the date for the next Ontario budget. It will be a crucial budget for the minority Liberal government; if the NDP does not support it, a spring election will be triggered.
Beyond the election stakes, every Ontario budget is important in terms of the priorities it reflects. After years of austerity-flavoured policies, it is essential that this budget make needed investments in public services. OCUFA will be looking for new funding for universities to redress Ontario’s declining level of per-student public funding. Ontario currently has the lowest level of per-student funding in Canada, and the situation is getting worse. Rising enrolment and stagnant investment is pushing per-student funding even lower, leading to a host of potential challenges to the quality of education at Ontario’s universities.
New funding is especially needed to hire more full-time faculty. OCUFA currently has the worst student-to-faculty ratio in Canada, at 28-to-1. This means less student engagement with faculty, larger class sizes, and fewer opportunities for extracurricular enrichment. OCUFA estimates that 9,300 new full-time faculty are needed by 2020 to bring Ontario’s student faculty ratio in line with the rest of Canada.
OCUFA will also be looking for the Budget to restore per-student funding for teacher training programs in Ontario. This funding was cut by 50 per cent in 2013, leading to serious financial challenges for education programs across Ontario.
The Budget should contain an announcement of a pension asset transfer framework that will allow OCUFA and its partners to continue our important work on pensions. Ideally, this announcement will come as a schedule in the budget bill.
For a complete list of OCUFA’s budget recommendations, please refer to our 2014 Budget Submission.