Post secondary education the focus of Toronto summit
By Sara Marett
TORONTO It wasn't just another day of protest for those concerned about educational issues at the Ensuring Excellence Summit yesterday it was a day where the powerhouses of education came together to tackle the current crisis facing Ontario universities.
The summit was organized by Western's chancellor and Chief Executive Officer of Scotiabank, Peter Godsoe, who recognized the need for a meeting where all those affected by educational issues could gather and send a strong message to the government about the future of Ontario's universities.
Over 100 participants, including CEOs from major banks and corporations, university presidents, government officials and student leaders converged to determine what changes need to be made to ensure accessible, quality post-secondary education.
"Ontario and Ottawa must work together and must come up with a united plan to tackle this absolutely critical area," Godsoe said.
Premier Mike Harris and Minister of Education Dave Johnson entered the conference through back doors, avoiding surging protestors and media cameras. He began his speech by recognizing that it is Ontario's universities which prepare the leaders we rely on as a society and said the government is dedicated to seeing this continue in the future.
"It is no secret that Ontario universities are facing tremendous pressures on all fronts they are being asked to manage a great deal of change in a short period of time but our universities have shown they are up to the challenge," he said.
He continued to challenge the business world to find new ways of doing things to provide a skilled, educated and thinking workforce. Harris said he was disappointed a new student loan program was not put in place in 1997, but said with the support of the federal government, 1998 would see a new plan. "Of all the costs of going to school, tuition is the smallest," Harris said, referring to other big ticket living expenses most of financial assistance is used for.
Minister of Education Dave Johnson said he is looking forward to giving the post-secondary sector the attention it deserves but lately has been occupied with public and elementary school issues.
"Post-secondary education continues to become lower on the list of priorities for the Ministry of Education that is besieged with public school issues this has to change," said Waterloo President James Downey.