Last week, Statistics Canada released its yearly report on university tuition fees in Canada. Yet again, Ontario has the highest tuition fees in the country. But the true scale of Ontario’s tuition fee increase over the past two decades was highlighted by a report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). Since 1993-94, tuition has more than tripled, rising 248 per cent.
According to Statistics Canada, average undergraduate tuition fees in Ontario are now $7,868, the highest in Canada. The Canadian average without Ontario is $5,178. In addition, fees in Ontario went up 4.0 per cent between 2014-15 and 2015-16, compared to a 3.2 per cent increase nationally.
The CCPA study correctly identifies the culprit for rising fees as the continuing withdrawal of public funding from Canada’s – and in particular, Ontario’s – university sector. As per-student funding has fallen, universities have turned to tuition fees to make up the difference. As OCUFA reported this past February, tuition fees surpassed public funding as a source of university revenue in Ontario for the first time this year. Fees now account for almost 51 per cent of university operating budgets, and this number is set to rise. This calls into question how public our public universities actually are.
OCUFA has long argued the need for greater public investment in Ontario’s universities. With each new grim tuition report that hits the headlines, this need only becomes more urgent.