On May 16, faculty worked with campus partners to host an all-candidates debate in Waterloo. Attended by over 150 members of the community, the debate focused exclusively on postsecondary education issues. Local candidates from all major parties participated in the debate, including incumbent Catherine Fife (NDP), Dorothy McCabe (Liberal), Dan Weber (PC), and Zdravko Gunjevic (Green), and the event was moderated by local CBC Radio host Craig Norris. The debate generated a lot of great discussion and demonstrated that election-focused events are a great way to put postsecondary education issues squarely on the agenda.
The candidates answered questions on key postsecondary issues starting with whether they are committed to re-investing in public operating funding for universities and colleges (Ontario has the lowest level of per-student funding in Canada). Next, candidates were asked how they would address rising tuition fees since Ontario’s undergraduate university tuition fees are 76 per cent higher than the average tuition fees across the rest of the country. The third question sought commitment from each party to provide mental health services and support on our campuses. The fourth question was about fairness for contract faculty and what their parties would do to deliver job security, equal pay and access to benefits for contract faculty. The debate ended with a question about how each candidate planned to support international students, who are currently not covered by OHIP and pay exorbitant tuition fees.
The candidates answered each question respectfully, and it was great to see discussion of these crucial issues. The Federation of Students at the University of Waterloo prepared a summary of the debate outlining the candidates’ responses to each of the five questions, which you can read here.
The Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association (WLUFA) and Faculty Association at the University of Waterloo (FAUW), along with a new cross-campus coalition that included the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union, Laurier Managerial Group, Wilfrid Laurier University Staff Association (OSSTF), University of Waterloo Federation of Students, Waterloo Staff Association, Wilfrid Laurier University Graduate Students’ Association, Conestoga College Faculty (OPSEU Local 237), Conestoga College Staff (OPSEU Local 238), and Conestoga Students’ Incorporated, worked together to take on the challenge and host this event.
OCUFA would like to congratulate WLUFA, FAUW, and their coalition partners for hosting a very successful all-candidates debate. This work will prove to be a strong foundation for further collaboration in Waterloo.
If you missed the debate and want to hear the candidates’ complete answers, you can watch it online thanks to the Laurier Students’ Union.