In a surprise announcement made at 6pm on Tuesday, October 23rd, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities declared they would no longer be funding three new university and college campuses. The expansion campuses being built by York University and Seneca College in Markham, Ryerson University and Sheridan College in Brampton, and Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College in Milton were all well into development, with over $300 million in funding having been promised by the previous government, land committed, buildings designed, and years of hard work completed.
The sudden decision was made without consultation with stakeholder groups, including the universities, colleges, and communities affected. This represents a continued lack of interest on the part of this government in talking to stakeholders before making destructive decisions with long-term implications.
Although these campuses might still be built, other revenue sources will have to be identified, and it may result in the affected postsecondary institutions reallocating resources from their main campuses – a development that is of concern to faculty.
This represents the first major funding cut for postsecondary education under Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives, raising questions about this government’s commitment to public postsecondary education.
All three planned campuses are located in ridings held by PC MPPs who vocally supported those campuses during the provincial election. Doug Ford promised no cuts to education during his election campaign, and had no mandate to cut funding for expansion campuses. This announcement demonstrates this government cannot be trusted to deliver on their promises.
Faculty across Ontario are concerned that this announcement is signaling further cuts under the guise of promoting “fiscal responsibility and accountability”. Cuts to university funding undermine the accessibility of postsecondary education, and threaten the quality of the student experience, teaching, and research at our institutions.
Faculty will continue to work with students, staff, and supporters of public postsecondary education in our communities to ensure robust public funding for Ontario’s colleges and universities.