The Ontario Government’s fall economic statement: What faculty should know

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On Thursday, November 15, the Ontario Progressive Conservative Government released its fall economic statement. The 155-page document offers an update on the status of Ontario’s finances and contains numerous government announcements across many different sectors. Also known as the mini-budget, the fall economic statement outlines some of the government’s plans for the public sector and offers insight into upcoming budgetary decisions.

As expected, the recurring themes in this year’s statement are provincial deficit and debt levels and the need to create efficiencies to limit government spending. Of particular interest to faculty and campus community are the announcements regarding public sector bargaining, pensions, executive compensation, and university free speech policies. You can read OCUFA’s full summary and analysis of these announcements here.

The statement also announced the government’s cancellation of the French-language university that was set to be built in Toronto.

Conceived as an autonomous institution that would be created by and for Francophones, the cancellation of the planned university was a surprise, in part, because Doug Ford himself had promised the project would go ahead. Following the cancellation of the three extension campuses in the Greater Toronto Area, this continues a concerning trend of the government cutting funding for new university campuses without any consultation.

After years of planning for the French-language university, the decision to pull the plug on the project was made without input from sector stakeholders or members of the francophone community. It is alarming that the government has chosen to make these decisions behind closed doors in secret. This is further evidence the Doug Ford government is not interested in listening to Ontarians, but is instead committed to pursuing an uninformed and unaccountable ideological agenda.

One Response to “The Ontario Government’s fall economic statement: What faculty should know”

  1. Anne Savage

    These are the principles by which Mike Harris undermined education in Ontario, a condition never remedied by successive governments still using the “efficiencies” mode of cutting. As someone who’s been teaching undergraduates for forty years, I see the effects: students who can’t read anything difficult because of a formative education and life in which they spent much of their time staring at screens and getting little bursts of dopamine every time they clicked on something – students who quickly scan for keywords but can’t answer a direct question about the text other than ‘What is this about, sort of?’ Our students are on Facebook or YouTube in class (and most other times, too), and are in a state of shock because they haven’t learned methodologies of focus and work in school. Teachers I’ve been speaking to for years struggle with a wide range of student special needs (including violence) without adequate access to specialist help, and have little time to work with students at the top levels who need to be challenged. And now this will all get much, much worse.

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