Ontario won’t raise tuition as colleges, universities beg for financial help

Click to play video: 'Ontario colleges say students are being hurt by federal study permit cap'
Ontario colleges say students are being hurt by federal study permit cap
RELATED: Ontario colleges are speaking out on the imposed cap on permits for international students, saying that students are caught in limbo. Colin D'Mello has the story. – Jan 25, 2024

Ontario Premier Doug Ford again ruled out increasing tuition fees in Ontario as colleges and universities beg for help amidst a financial crunch.

On Tuesday, Ford confirmed he wouldn’t increase tuition fees but repeatedly said he and his government would stand with the struggling post-secondary sector.

“We’re going to be there to support the colleges, the university,” Ford said.

“We’re going to have full communication with the colleges and universities, we’re there to support them.”

Ford’s government cut tuition by 10 per cent in 2019 for Canadian students and froze it.

The tuition cut and freeze combined with low levels of provincial funding to post-secondary institutions forced many schools to look for different revenue streams, increasing reliance on international students, who pay much higher tuition.

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Ford said he was “caught off guard” when the Trudeau government capped the number of international students.

“Never got a phone call (to say) that they’re doing this,” he said.

Ford’s words come the day after Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy also ruled out increasing the fees charged to students.

“The premier has been clear: this isn’t the time to increase tuition when people are hurting,” Bethlenlfavy said Monday.

As Global News has previously reported, the government is mulling other financial help for the struggling sector.

A source said “financial support” would be on the way for universities and colleges, with an announcement expected at the end of the month.

The plan comes several months after the government’s blue ribbon panel on the post-secondary sector, which focused on the financial sustainability of the province’s 47 publicly assisted colleges and universities, reported back to the government.

The expert group, formed in March 2023, concluded the Ford government’s 10 per cent tuition cut and subsequent freeze in 2019, combined with historic underfunding of post-secondary education, posed a “significant threat” to the viability of the sector.

A senior government source told Global News the province’s response to the panel’s report would “include financial support” for colleges and universities. It is unclear, however, whether the government will implement the full financial recommendation outlined in the blue panel report.

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Colleges and universities have been begging for more financial support, especially since the federal government introduced its cap on international students.

In early January, the Council of Ontario Universities said some institutions were on the brink of disaster

“As a result of growing financial pressures, we estimate that at least 10 universities are currently projecting operating deficits this year, totalling $175 million growing to $273 million,” council president Steve Orsini warned.

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