The 2015 Ontario Budget was released last week. Although its provisions for higher education amount to thin gruel, OCUFA has completed a full analysis which is now available for download.
In terms of public funding, austerity remains the reality for Ontario’s universities. Yearly increases in operating funding will be in the range of one per cent. Taking inflation into account, this amounts to an effective cut. Moreover, if the government’s own enrolment targets are met, the situation becomes even worse as per-student funding will continue its precipitous decline. OCUFA is also concerned with the quiet privatization of Ontario’s universities, as more and more costs are shifted onto students and their families. This year, for the first time ever, tuition fees account for a greater proportion of university operating budgets than public funding.
The Budget reiterated the government’s commitment to undertaking a review of employment and labour law in the context of a changing labour market. The government recognizes an increase in non-standard employment, including temporary work, part-time work, and holding multiple jobs. OCUFA will participate in the government’s review at every opportunity in order to make recommendations that could improve working conditions for a growing number of contract faculty at Ontario universities who are subject to precarious terms of employment.
The Budget also reiterated the government’s commitment to working with stakeholders to developing new regulations to facilitate the possible conversion of public sector single-employer pension plans (SEPPs) to jointly sponsored pension plans (JSPPs). The Budget also commits to working with stakeholders on solvency exemption provisions for those considering a move to JSPPs. OCUFA has been highly engaged with this process, and will continue to communicate with the government to ensure that the regulations and criteria reflect our members’ interests.
The full analysis can be downloaded here.