Ontario’s next government needs to address colleges’ $100-million shortfall

Ontario’s colleges face a province-wide funding shortfall of more than $100 million a year that the province’s next government needs to address.

“College education gives students a competitive edge in this knowledge-driven economy,” said Don Lovisa, President, Durham College. “It’s essential that we continue to deliver high-quality programs that produce job-ready graduates who are prepared with the skills and knowledge to succeed.”

A number of factors are affecting Ontario’s colleges, from declining enrolment to cost increases related to the rate of inflation. Meanwhile, per-student provincial funding has fallen every year since 2007-2008.

Ontario’s colleges currently receive the lowest per-student funding in Canada. The per-student revenue for colleges is lower than the amounts provided to Ontario universities and high schools.

Currently, colleges need an additional $100 million per year to maintain programs and services for students.

While some of the cost pressures were offset this year by an increase in international students, the increasing dependence on international student revenues to balance College budgets is not sustainable and therefore the long-term challenge remains.

As accelerating automation and innovations revolutionize the workplace, Ontario needs to invest in college education. More students need to acquire the specialized qualifications and expertise that lead to rewarding careers.

Colleges are calling for candidates in the provincial election to commit to investing in student success. Some of the options for addressing the colleges’ funding shortfall include:

  • Enhancing the annual operating funding provided to colleges.
  • Creating a tuition-fee framework for colleges that is distinct from the tuition framework for universities.
  • Developing a targeted funding increase to expand science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) programs by 30 percent over the next four years.

“Chronic underfunding is putting the long-term sustainability of college education in Ontario at risk,” said Lovisa. “Our next government needs to ensure we have the resources to provide students with the knowledge and expertise that lead to meaningful and rewarding careers.