Stable funding, strong universities: OCUFA makes recommendations for 2020 Ontario Budget

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OCUFA has set out its priorities for the 2020 Ontario Budget in a written submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.

OCUFA’s 2020 budget recommendations aim to preserve the accessibility and quality of postsecondary education in Ontario through stable, consistent, and adequate funding, as well as improved working conditions for university faculty.

Public funding of universities in Ontario is at record low levels, while tuition fees are high, and faculty in the province are extremely concerned about the impact on the accessibility and quality of postsecondary education.

After years of chronic underfunding of postsecondary education, now is the time to invest in the province’s universities.

OCUFA recommends that the Government of Ontario:

  1. Increase per-student public investment in Ontario’s universities to improve Ontario’s rank among other provinces in per-student funding by 2024-25.
  2. Reverse the unstable and inequitable performance-based university funding model and revert to the largely effective enrolment-based funding model.
  3. Eliminate the wasteful, ineffective, and unreliable Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario and allocate its budget to student financial assistance.
  4. Invest in a multi-year faculty renewal strategy that supports meaningful long-term change. This strategy should encourage universities to undertake additional full-time tenure-stream hiring over and above current planned growth and direct funds towards transitioning existing contract faculty into secure full-time positions.
  5. Drop the appeal of the Ontario Divisional Court’s decision that deemed the “Student Choice Initiative” unlawful. This would save further legal costs and the additional resources universities and colleges require to support the flawed program.
  6. Repeal the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act to avoid a lengthy and costly Charter challenge and, instead, focus on the province’s real problem: the lack of revenue required to adequately fund Ontario’s public services.
  7. Adequately and meaningfully consult with sector stakeholders, especially representatives of faculty, workers, and students, before introducing new government legislation or policy initiatives.

Universities are vital institutions within our communities. They deliver education to thousands of students that expands knowledge, they create vibrant campus communities, they produce thought-provoking and groundbreaking research that drives innovation, and they provide good jobs that support local economies.

A high quality and accessible higher education sector is only possible through robust public funding. It is time for the Government of Ontario to invest in and protect postsecondary education in the province.

Read the full pre-budget submission.

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