The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) has given the Ford government a failing grade for its election budget. After four years of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government undermining the foundations of public universities and allowing our postsecondary education system to languish behind every other province, this budget promises no improvement to university education quality, research, or accessibility.
“This budget fails faculty, it fails staff, it fails students, and it fails Ontarians,” said Sue Wurtele, OCUFA President. “We have a university system in desperate need of additional funding and a government that would rather cut public services than invest in the education and research so vital to Ontario’s future and our post-pandemic recovery.”
Today’s budget fails to reverse the Ford government’s wage constraint legislation or the deep real dollar cuts to public services and student financial assistance. In fact, the government admits it is likely to spend $685 million less on postsecondary education in 2021-22 than planned, as the Ford government ignores the needs of the sector and takes a free ride on the back of increased federal transfers. The money the Ford government is “saving” should not be going back into government coffers to be used for the many regressive tax credits included in this budget; it should be supporting faculty and students in the classroom.
Under the Ford administration, Ontario’s public universities now only receive an average of 33 per cent of their operating funding from the provincial government. The rest comes from private sources, including student tuition fees. Freezing funding while costs soar means a real dollar cut to university support at a time when the province should be investing in high-quality education and research as part of its pandemic recovery strategy. The Ford government’s neglect of universities demonstrates a government that is out of step with polls showing that 69 per cent of Ontarians believe that postsecondary education should be a priority and 57 per cent believe the government should increase financial support for universities.
“After four years in power, the Ford government’s track record on postsecondary education is unacceptable,” said Wurtele. “They clearly don’t understand the vital role that Ontario’s universities play in creating a resilient society and economy. This government stood idly by while Laurentian University fell into financial crisis and gutted key programs that supported Indigenous, Francophone, and northern communities.”
On reviewing today’s Ontario Budget, OCUFA President Sue Wurtele had a simple message for university students and their parents and grandparents: “It’s time for a government that values education. It’s time for a government that consults with stakeholders. It’s time for a government that invests in human capital. It’s time to elect a government that invests in public universities.”
Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 30 member 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.
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