January 17, 2019 — The Ford government’s announcement today that it is cutting student tuition fees by 10 percent, without providing any additional funding to institutions to compensate for that cut, will only exacerbate the negative impacts of the chronic underfunding Ontario’s universities have been dealing with for years. Every university student in Ontario, along with their families, should be deeply concerned about the adverse effects this move will have on the programs and services provided by universities across the province.
For years now Ontario has ranked dead last in Canada in provincial per-student funding for universities, and as a result Ontario’s publicly-funded universities have been placed in the unenviable position of having to rely more on student tuition fees than on government funding to cover operating costs. It’s no surprise that Ontario university students have been paying the highest tuition fees in Canada.
Students should never have been on the hook for this problem in the first place, but with no increase in funding from the government, the tuition cut announced today will remove hundreds of millions of dollars from Ontario’s post-secondary sector. Many individual universities will be faced with a reduction of tens of millions of dollars in funding for programs and services. A revenue shortfall of that magnitude cannot help but to have a devastating impact on both the quality of education and the availability of services and supports for students.
This is not acceptable to the thousands of university support staff workers represented by OSSTF/FEESO, and it should not be acceptable to anyone concerned about the quality and viability of post-secondary education in Ontario. OSSTF/FEESO calls on the government to reconsider this approach, to consult with key stakeholders, and to recognize that cuts to student tuition must be accompanied by enhanced, stable funding for programs and services at Ontario’s universities.