Budget falls short on investment in Ontario universities

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TORONTO, March 23, 2023 – The Ford government continued its streak of neglecting Ontario’s public universities in the provincial budget, tabled today at Queen’s Park. The government failed to meaningfully invest in universities, which university faculty warn may lead to more privatization and instability for students, faculty, and staff on campuses.

“Ontario sits last in the country in terms of per-student funding from the government, so there is nowhere to go but up. But today’s budget doesn’t accomplish even this. It fails to include enough investment to adequately fund our universities,” said Sue Wurtele, President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. “The government claims to want to help Ontarians with high student debt, high tuition fees, and improving the financial health of our universities, but its choices provide no real solutions, insufficient financial support and, as such, reveal that they aren’t serious.”

The budget includes no additional operating funding for universities, nor an increase in per-student funding. The government announced additional seats for medical and nursing students, but provided no details on the allocation of those seats, no funding commitment for faculty to teach new students, and no assurance that instruction won’t be privatized.

The consequences of continuing to underfund colleges and universities will have far-reaching effects for all Ontarians.

Insufficient funding from the government, on a per-student and operating basis, has created an unsustainable dynamic for Ontario’s universities, in which they increasingly rely on high tuition fees from international students as a significant source of revenue. Short-term tuition freezes recently proposed by the government—applicable to only some students—will provide some much-needed relief in the immediate term for students struggling with the high cost of living. But this approach fails to address the larger issue of chronic underfunding of public universities in the province.

“Only robust, long-term public funding will ensure the long-term financial health of our universities. The Ford government has once again failed to invest in the vibrant public institutions we rely on,” said Wurtele. “Ontario’s citizens expect our government to support our world-class public universities. The government should be focused on making sure our universities thrive instead of starving them of the resources they need.”

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 31 member organizations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members towards creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at www.ocufa.on.ca.


For more information, contact:
Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, Communications Lead at manishaas@ocufa.on.ca or 416-306-6033.