OCUFA/EKOS poll: Provincial government should provide additional funding to Laurentian

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TORONTO, Mar 31, 2021—A new poll conducted by EKOS Research Associates for the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations shows that a clear majority of Ontarians believe that Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano and the Ford government should provide additional funding to Laurentian University and any other universities that face financial difficulties.

According to the poll, 66 per cent of Ontarians believe the Ford government should provide Laurentian University with additional funding to protect its bilingual and Indigenous programs. After learning that provincial operating grants for Ontario universities have declined 9.2 per cent over the last ten years, when accounting for inflation, 63 per cent of poll respondents support the government providing additional funding to protect programs and jobs at other universities that face financial difficulties.

“These poll results clearly show that Ontarians believe this government should be supporting Ontario universities when they face financial challenges,” said Rahul Sapra, President of OCUFA. “Even amongst Ford’s own supporters, more think the government should provide additional funding to Laurentian than oppose the idea. They understand that Laurentian is a public university, that it provides good jobs and produces important research for the region, and that it’s Minister Romano’s job to ensure it’s properly funded.”

The poll of 1,063 Ontario residents was conducted between March 5 and 8. The results found broad support for Ontario’s universities, with 73 per cent of Ontarians agreeing that a university education is valuable for today’s young people and 70 per cent saying that postsecondary education should be a high priority for the provincial government over the next five years. This support was shared by Progressive Conservative supporters, 63 per cent of whom agree about the value of a university education and a majority of whom think postsecondary education should be a high priority in the years to come.

Amongst those living in Northern Ontario, 82 per cent of respondents think that Laurentian University is important for the region. This belief is shared by PC supporters as well, with 62 per cent identifying the institution as important.

“Following years of declining university funding, Ontarians realize that the fiscal foundations of our universities have been eroded and that Laurentian is a canary in the coalmine,” said Sapra. “As we look to the future and identify ways to rebuild following this pandemic, it is important to recognize that investing in Ontario’s universities is an investment in our children, in our communities, and in the future.”

The longer Minister Romano and Premier Ford neglect the funding crisis at Laurentian, the more likely student programs are cancelled, jobs are cut, research projects are shut down, and the future of the university is called into question. Students, faculty, and staff should not have to pay the price for the poor governance practices of an underfunded public institution. This government should have known about Laurentian’s financial difficulties as early as fall 2018, when the Ontario Treasury Board conducted a review of university reserves—more than enough time to avoid this crisis. Minister Romano needs to step in now to provide the funding needed to secure the future of Laurentian University.

The poll results can be downloaded here.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 professors and academic librarians in 30 faculty associations 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 or to arrange an interview, contact:
Ben Lewis, OCUFA Communications Lead at 416-306-6033 or communications@ocufa.on.ca