Wynne continues Liberal legacy of tuition fee increases, privatization
TORONTO - Students are disappointed that Premier Kathleen Wynne's first budget continues the Liberal government's record of increasing tuition fees and further privatizes education and training in Ontario. Despite the creation of a new Youth Employment Strategy, the 2013 budget does nothing to make education and training more affordable or address the debt crisis facing Ontario students and their families.
"Government underfunding and eight years of tuition fee increases have offloaded the bulk of the cost of college and university education onto students and their families," said Sarah Jayne King, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "Over the past decade, our public colleges and universities have been quietly privatized, and increasingly institutions are being forced to open their doors to private interests."
The 2013 Ontario Budget confirms the Liberal government will allow tuition fees to increase by three to five per cent each year for the next four years. These increases, as well as government cuts, mean that public funding now accounts for less than half of college and university operating budgets.
The budget includes funding for a new Youth Employment Strategy, including $195 million to help Ontario youth find employment primarily through wage subsidies. The strategy also includes a number of programs that will increase commercial and private influence at colleges and universities, including the expansion of "On Campus Accelerator Centres," which allow large businesses to use public resources for private gain.
"While students welcome investments to address youth unemployment, a real strategy for youth must address the high cost of tuition fees and record high levels of student debt," said King. "We need the opposition parties to be strong advocates for affordable, accessible, public post-secondary education in Ontario and demand this budget increase funding to institutions and reduce tuition fees for students."
A poll commissioned by the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario and conducted by Harris-Decima prior to the budget found that 77 per cent of Ontarians support reducing tuition fees. Over the past few weeks, students have sent thousands of emails calling on the Premier to reduce tuition fees.
The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario unites more than 300,000 college and university students in all regions of the province.