It is widely accepted that the future prosperity of Canada rests on having a well-educated workforce. Yet, the cost to students of post-secondary education has risen rapidly over the last few years as government funding has dropped dramatically. Since the early 1980s, public funding of post-secondary education in Canada has gone down by 30 percent. In addition, across Canada, about 1.1 million full-time students were enrolled in post-secondary institutions in 2001, but thousands have been turned away because of lack of space or they have not applied for admission because the cost of tuition is too high for them.
Ontario has the second-highest tuition fees in the country. On average, tuition fees can cost an undergraduate student close to $5,000 per year.
Over 80 per cent of Ontarians believe tuition fees are too high, even with the current freeze. More than 90 per cent of students voted to reduce tuition fees. Yet Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has announced that tuition fees will be increasing by up to 36 per cent over the next four years.
Ontario's post-secondary system, which has 18 universities and 24 community colleges, receives the lowest per-student funding in the country. For the most part, reductions in university funding by both the federal and provincial governments explain higher university tuition. The federal cash transfer payments for education and training have been cut by $7 billion since 1993. In the 2000-2001 federal budget, only a $600 million increase was allocated for both health and education, with no real requirement that any of the money be spent on education. But the Minister of Finance was able to find $55 billion in tax cuts for corporations, the banks and wealthy Canadians. The money is available, but the wrong choices are being made.
Students are now paying higher fees for a lower quality education - less access to libraries, less lab equipment, reductions in tenured teaching staff and support staff. Tuition fees are a...
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