Volume 93, Issue 2

Friday, May 21, 1999


Tuition grabs attention of election platforms

Movies on the Wave's menu

First-year concerns plague dissolved council

Structural face-lift for campus bars in the works

Recent study says future looks bright for university grads

Mail-in ballot to determine negotations

Agriculture a trend out West but lags in Eastern Canada



Caught on campus

Tuition grabs attention of election platforms

By Stephanie Cesca
Gazette Staff

With only a few weeks until the provincial election, some hot-blooded politicians are striving to convince university and college students why their party has the most to offer post-secondary education.

Premier Mike Harris is up for re-election against Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty and the New Democratic Party's Howard Hampton.

Rob Savage, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education and Training, said the PC's are committed to providing more funding to students wishing to attend post-secondary insitutions. "I think what distinguishes us is we have, in the overall sense, a sound economic plan."

An example, Savage added, is the Super-Built Growth Fund which provides $742 million for capital spending for Ontario colleges and universities.

One of the PC party's primary concerns is how university education will handle several changes in upcoming years due to factors such as increased enrollment. "There are more students going to universities and colleges now, largely because we've provided so much assistance," Savage said.

Darrel Skidmore, Liberal candidate for London West, said the Liberal party is looking to initiate a 10 per cent rollback on tuition fees at all post-secondary institutions in what is called the 20/20 plan. This plan, he explained, would set tuition levels to what they were in 1997. The plan entails higher standard health care and education and more fiscal responsibility, he said.

Sheila White, spokesperson for the NDP criticized the Liberal's education agenda for its inability to account for the money it would provide. "Their 20/20 vision is rather clouded," she said.

Skidmore said the Liberals want to focus on cutting tuition because an Ontario university education is the most expensive in the country. "A 60 per cent tuition hike is simply not acceptable," he said. "We simply cannot allow higher education to be the reserve of the wealthy families of this province."

Savage also criticized the Liberals and their 20/20 plan. "The Liberals have no plan," he said. The Liberals are claiming they can save money, but these savings are only coming by way of more cuts – a strategy not at all unique, he added.

If elected, White said the NDP's plan is to install a 10 per cent tuition rollback and to repeal Bill 160, the controversial funding formula which has closed one in five elementary and secondary schools.

The tuition rollback, White said, would create $1.5 billion to be re-invested in six key areas, such as increased daycare, special needs education and the post-secondary sector.

Paul Nesbitt-Larking, political science professor at Huron College said elections have always been a major topic of argument, but there is never really one right or wrong answer. "One candidate's cut can look like another candidate's re-investment," he said.

Christian Obando, a third-year biology student said he is unsure about whether or not he should vote. "Politicians are never clear on what they offer the public. Instead, they spend more time bashing one another."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999