Ontario’s professors and academic librarians ask: “Why is Ontario one of the least affordable provinces for students?”

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Ontario’s professors and academic librarians are questioning why Ontario has one of the least affordable university systems in Canada, as revealed in a study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). The report, Eduflation and the High Cost of Learning, compares university affordability for students across Canada.

“This study shows that students and families have been asked to carry a huge – and fast increasing – chunk of the cost of higher education in Ontario,” said Constance Adamson, President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. “The government has been shifting more and more of the cost burden onto our young people and their families, and it’s time to stop.”

Even with the Government of Ontario’s 30% Tuition Rebate, Ontario is the fourth-least affordable province for middle-income students and their families. For lower-income students, the rebate is only good enough to make Ontario the second-least affordable place to go to school. For students who do not receive the rebate, Ontario is the least affordable province for both middle- and lower-income students.

Worse, the current tuition fee policy – which sees fees rise at five per cent per year – will gradually undermine the tuition rebate and push Ontario to the bottom of the affordability index as other provinces roll back, freeze, or modestly increase their fees.

“We believe that the best way to control tuition costs and ensure affordability is through sustained public funding of our universities. Not only does this make it easier for all qualified students to attend, but it also builds high quality, world-class institutions,” said Adamson.

Unfortunately, Ontario lags behind the rest of Canada in public funding. The province is currently dead last in terms of per-student operating funding provided by government. Ontario’s universities receive 25 per cent less funding per student than they did in 1990, despite a huge increase in enrolment over the past two decades.  

“Investing in universities creates jobs and allows students to succeed. Investing in universities grows our economy. And, investing in universities builds a strong democratic society,” said Adamson. “The Government of Ontario has invested in universities before, with huge success. So why aren’t they investing now, when we need it more than ever?

Eduflation and the High Cost of Learning was commissioned by the Ontario University and College Coalition, an organization of students, faculty, and staff from across the province. OCUFA currently chairs the Coalition.

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