Monday, January 30, 2017
TIMMINS, ON – Northern College is among the 24 colleges across the province of Ontario seeking an urgent meeting with Premier Kathleen Wynne to address the funding crisis that has colleges facing what could be a cumulative $1.9-billion shortfall by 2024-25.
“We’re doing everything we can to cope with the funding shortfall but it can’t continue like this,” said Fred Gibbons, president and CEO of Northern College. “Ontario must find a solution that ensures students will continue to have access to the high-quality programs and supports that lead to good jobs and long-term success.”
Since 2007-08, the provincial funding for colleges’ operating costs – in real dollars – has decreased each year. Colleges have suffered an accumulated shortfall – adjusted for inflation – of about $900 million over the past 10 years.
A new report by PwC Canada suggests that if no actions are taken to change current trends of revenues and expenses, colleges could face an annual operating deficit that will exceed $400 million a year by 2024-25 and a cumulative shortfall of more than $1.9 billion by that time.
While colleges have worked to manage funding shortfalls through greater efficiencies and pursuing entrepreneurial activities to create new revenues, the sector is at the breaking point. The government’s recent announcement that tuition fees at Ontario’s colleges will remain among the lowest in Canada worsens the fiscal squeeze.
College representatives will be meeting with Advanced Education and Skills Development Minister Deb Matthews in February. The colleges are also seeking an urgent meeting with the premier.
The underfunding of college education is particularly puzzling at a time when the economy is being transformed by accelerating technological advancements. Without a change in direction, Ontario won’t have a highly skilled workforce and the economy will continue to sputter.
“The government must work with us to find a solution,” Gibbons said. “Ontario must commit to the long-term sustainability of college education to produce the highly skilled workforce that is essential in this new economy.”
The full PwC report can be found at this link.
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