On Friday, January 30, 2015, OCUFA President Kate Lawson presented OCUFA’s 2015 Pre-Budget Brief to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs (SCFEA). The Brief, entitled Strong Universities for a Strong Ontario argues for renewed investment in higher education and increased faculty hiring.
Every year, SCFEA conducts hearings in the run-up to the provincial budget. The committee then makes recommendations on spending priorities and needs to the Minister of Finance. This year, OCUFA is recommending that the government:
- Increase per-student public investment in Ontario’s universities to the rest of Canadaaverage by 2020-21.
- Support universities to bring Ontario’s student-faculty ratio in line with the rest ofCanada average by 2020-21 by hiring 8,640 new full-time faculty members.
- Ensure fairness and improve working conditions for contract faculty through improved minimum standards for equal pay and access to benefits, government support for good jobs in the university sector, and funding for universities at a level that can support the hiring of more full-time faculty.
- Continue to work with the university sector to ensure that the regulatory framework governing the transition of single-employer pension plans (SEPPs) to jointly sponsored pension plans (JSPPs) will support the work being done by OCUFA and sector partners to develop fair and sustainable pension solutions for the university sector.
- Ensure that the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) supports a secure retirement income for contract faculty.
While OCUFA and its members are sensitive to the financial situation faced by the provincial government, we are firm in our position that a high quality and accessible higher education sector is only possible through robust public funding. It is important to recognize that public funding of universities truly is an investment. A recent report from the Conference Board of Canada shows that every dollar spent on postsecondary education delivers $1.36 for the Canadian economy. This means that once their $41 billion in direct spending and its multiplier effect are considered, colleges and universities generate over $55 billion in economic activity. To keep that in perspective, if the stock market made returns of 36 per cent, people would be ecstatic. Higher education is not just a good investment- it’s one of the best.