Volume 95, Issue 91

Tuesday, March 26, 2002
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Bringing up the rear

Editorial Cartoon

Editorial Board 2001-2002

Bringing up the rear

It seems the debate surrounding tuition deregulation and education cutbacks are never ending. But, according to the results of a recent study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, there is a lot to be discussed – and to be concerned about.

The study considers a number of factors in its annual ranking of each province's commitment post-secondary education, including accessibility, accountability, commitment, equity and quality. For the third year in a row, Ontario has placed dead last.

As students, this is concerning.

By placing last again, it is clear the Ontario government isn't addressing students' concerns and combined with cries for further tuition deregulation, the situation for students is becoming more dire every year.

Perhaps we should look to our Québecois neighbours. This year, Québec moved from second to first on the list – a transition that can be attributed to its student population.

In Québec, not only are students encouraged to stay within the province, but there is a substantially, more militant and unified student presence that puts more pressure on the government when it comes to education-related concerns. The province also boasts the lowest tuition rates in the country, no doubt aided by the large amounts of private funding, that fuel their post-secondary education system.

Dianne Cunningham, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities argues that the recent study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is not necessarily valid because it doesn't take all factors into account. For example, the study fails to consider the government's funding for research and development and partnerships with industry for educational purposes.

Although Ontario is home to more universities than any other province and funding must be spread thinnest amongst our institutions, other recent studies have also indicated that our province's post-secondary education may be in trouble. Because of our province's consistently poor ranking and reputation, it is clear Ontario's commitment to education requires changes – and fast.

Ernie Eves, the newly-elected Ontario premier, has often spoke about mending the bridges burned during Mike Harris' "Common Sense Revolution." But will he deliver to Ontario students?

Our first step in improving education is to strengthen the student voter turnout in order to motivate Eves and his government to stand up and respond to our concerns. However, to meet our ends, we must be prepared for higher taxes and potential cuts to other government portfolios.

Although there is still a great demand for Ontario schools as indicated by our presence and willingness to pay tuition, if this trend of government commitment continues in Ontario, what kind of students will they be encouraging?

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