Former Premier, Hon. Bob Rae, reviewed the post-secondary education system in Ontario.The report on his review of the design and funding of post-secondary education was issued in mid-February 2005.
- The Rae Report is going to influence upcoming Ontario budget decision-making;
- CUPE members will be mobilizing to lobby our M.P.Ps on April 1st.
1. The Rae Review reports that Ontarios universities and colleges need an extra$2.2 billion per year in revenue just to meet the North American average. Bob Rae recommends the Ontario government invest a total of $1.3 billion in base funding by 2007-08 into post-secondary education.[i] He recommends the rest come from higher tuition and corporate funding.
- We think the government should fill the gap with public money;
- We call on the Ontario government to allocate an increase in university operating funds that would raise the floor by $1 billion by 2007-08 ($333 million this year; $666 million next year; $1billion in 2007-08). This would meet the Canadian average in three years[ii];
- We want to see public funding for public institutions, not privatization and user-fees.
2. Bob Rae recognizes the problem of deferred maintenance in Ontarios universities, and recommends making available money for facilities renewal.
- We call for $1 billion over three years to begin to fund the deferred maintenance deficit on university campuses that has already reached the $2 billion mark[iii];
- We believe the government should assume this debt; not universities and colleges.Public money should not be used pay the high costs of borrowing from private lenders.
3. Bob Rae recommends $6,000 grants for students whose families make less than $22,000 per year.This would decrease to $4,900 at a family income of $25,000, and continue decreasing to $500 at a family income of $35,000. There would be no grant after that. Rae recommends the government should encourage corporations to donate money for student grants.
- This is an inadequate solution.We call on the provincial government to offer a comprehensive and meaningful grants system for students;
- We call on the government to continue the freeze on undergraduate tuition and immediately freeze graduate, professional and international student fees;
- We want to see a plan to reduce tuition fees and eventually eliminate them.
4. Bob Rae recommends more loans for middle-income students.He recommends loan repayments through a geared-to-income payroll deduction.
- We oppose user-fees and massive debt-sentences for students;
- Income-contingent student loans sound good, but lower-income people will be paying more interest and will pay up to 20 years. Graduates with higher incomes will pay off their loans quickly and will pay less interest;
- We support fair (progressive) tax policies instead.
5. Bob Rae recommends that the Ontario government should establish a Council of Higher Education to deal with quality issues.
- We agree more attention should be paid to student services. This means more attention should be paid to the contribution made by support staff;
- We oppose any Council that will set out performance measures to justify privatization, contracting-out and increased workload.
6. Bob Rae thinks groups of people who are under-represented in universities and colleges need to understand how valuable a post-secondary education is.However,
- Many students from racially diverse communities have parents with years of post-secondary education who are paid very low wages;
- These students are more likely to face economic barriers to post-secondary education, rather than a lack of information;
- Low-income people have a very hard time making ends meet, never mind putting money into an Ontario Learning Bond.
7. Bob Rae thinks the federal government should support post-secondary education.
- We agree the province should pressure the federal government to create a separate and dedicated transfer to the provinces for post-secondary education;
- We agree the federal government should offer students grants for living expenses.
[i] Bob Rae, Ontario, A Leader in Learning: Report and Recommendations, Government of Ontario, February 2005. p.36
[ii] Council of Ontario Universities, A Vision for Excellence: COU Response to the Post-secondary Review Discussion Paper, October 29, 2004, p.25
[iii] The Council of Ontario universities estimates that deferred maintenance and outstanding renovation costs for Ontario’s universities stands at $1.98 billion. According to the COU, deferred Maintenance (and Adaptation Renovations) excluding residences and infrastructure, and extrapolated to buildings that were not audited, amounts to $1.63 billion.. Residence deficiencies are estimated at $250 million, while infrastructure deficiencies are estimated at $100 million. Colleges also require significant funds for facilities renewal. Council of Ontario Universities, Joint Taskforce of CSAO/OAPPA, “Ontario Universities Facilities Condition Assessment Program”, September 2004, Table 2A p.13 and p.7