Tuition freeze vs. deficit
By Marshall Bellamy
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Despite Ontario's newly discovered massive $5.6 billion deficit, post-secondary students in Ontario will probably not have to worry about "The Man" messing with the system.
During the provincial election, the Liberal Party of Ontario promised to freeze tuition for two years, re-regulate professional programs and adjust the Ontario Student Assistance Program.
Perry Chao, campaign manager for former Liberal finance critic Gerry Phillips, said in late September the Liberals have a budget plan which will account for a deficit of a maximum of $3 billion.
According to Linda Chairvesio, communications officer for Mary Anne Chambers, the Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, the new Liberal government is still concerned with the state of post-secondary education in the province. "We do remain very committed to the election platform, like the tuition freeze," she said.
There is a deficit, but with only six months remaining in the fiscal year it is difficult to make any substantial changes, said Boni Fox Gray, media relations officer for the Ontario Ministry of Finance. "[The next year] will bring in a balanced budget and their agenda for positive change," she added.
According to Fox Gray, the Liberals will immediately introduce bills to roll back corporate tax cuts, maintain personal income tax levels, eliminate the senior property tax credit and eliminate the tax credit for private schools when the provincial legislature reconvenes later this month.
The Liberals will put forth a plan to balance the budget for the 2004/05 fiscal year, she added.
"Throughout the campaign [the Liberals] emphasized plans that don't cost a lot of money," said Adam Spence, executive director of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, adding the promised tuition freeze will cost somewhere between $40 million and $80 million.
But Spence noted most groups interested in the state of universities in Ontario do not have a lot to worry about. "I would say it's optimistic in the long term."