Ontario budget gets failing grade from university professors

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

TORONTO, March 26, 2024 – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations said the 2024 Ontario Budget gets a failing grade for not supporting the province’s public universities.

“This budget fails the test of investing in the long-term health of our world-class publicly funded universities,” said Nigmendra Narain, OCUFA President. “Universities are in a crisis that the province manufactured through chronic underfunding. It doesn’t have to be this way and Ontarians deserve much better.”

The budget, tabled today in Queen’s Park, included no new funding for universities, even though some Ontario universities are urgently sounding alarms and sadly pausing programs, and Ontario sits in last place in the country for per-student funding by a large margin, therein failing our students as well as faculty.

OCUFA was glad to see an extension of a freeze on tuition fees for postsecondary students, but the government did not invest in universities for this lost revenue, expecting universities to continue to do much more with much less.

The budget included a previously announced $1.3 billion for Ontario’s colleges and universities over the next three years. This drop-in-the bucket is less than half of the amount recommended by the government-appointed Blue-Ribbon panel and eight times less than OCUFA’s recommendation for university funding to reach just the Canadian funding average.

That funding announcement included $15 million directly to private for-profit companies with no expertise or ties to public postsecondary education tasked with finding “efficiencies” through reviewing data on university finances that is already available and reported by universities.

“The government is giving gifts to private consulting firms instead of reducing red tape and administrative burdens for universities that are already highly efficient in their operations,” said Narain. “Ontarians deserve transparency and accountability from their government, not unnecessary spending on private interference in our public universities.”

The government also announced plans to open a medical school in Vaughan affiliated with York University. However, the Budget contained few details about long-term funding for the institution or plans for hiring medical school faculty.

“Faculty, students, administrators, and staff groups are all telling the government the same thing: We need more funding for universities and we need it right now,” said Jenny Ahn, OCUFA Executive Director. “Chronic underfunding hurts students at universities now, and it will negatively affect the experiences of the next generation of students and Ontarians who work on campuses.”

OCUFA is hopeful that the government will also address the inequities of Bill 124 wage restrictions for those in the postsecondary sector.

“Premier Ford recognized the inequality created by Bill 124 wage restraints when his government repealed the legislation. Now it’s time to right the wrongs of this unconstitutional legislation,” said Ahn.

OCUFA laid out its recommendations for revitalizing Ontario’s public universities in its pre-budget submission and held meetings with MPPs and political staffers during its March 20 Advocacy Day, calling for renewed investment into our world-class public university system.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents over 18,000 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 media@ocufa.on.ca