Liberals contradictory on tuition?
By Marshall Bellamy
The future might not be so rosy - not to mention a little more expensive - for medical, engineering and business students after the provincial election.
In an interview with The London Free Press, Ontario member of provincial Parliament for Scarborough-Agincourt and Liberal financial critic Gerry Phillips stated there would be no money in the Liberal budget to re-regulate tuition in professional programs like medical schools.
Perry Chao, Phillips' campaign manager, stated a Liberal government would want to freeze tuition for two years while consulting with students and universities in Ontario to come up with a viable solution while increasing funding to universities to improve the quality of education in the province.
"Given the fiscal problems, we're looking at the possibility of a $2 billion debt," Chao stated, noting that given the budgetary constraints from the Progressive Conservative government, a roll back of tuition could not be done.
At the beginning of the election, Liberal candidate for London North Centre Deb Matthews said the Liberals intended to re-regulate programs like professional schools in Ontario, citing that as a current graduate student at Western she knows how hard it is to cover the costs of tuition
According to Matthews, the Liberal post-secondary platform was focused on the idea that access to higher education is based on ability as opposed to wealth.
Dianne Cunningham, minister of Training, Colleges and Universities and PC candidate for London North Centre, stated Liberal governments have had poor records in terms of health care. "They were the ones who didn't give enough money for hospitals to hire nurses," she said.
Cunningham questioned the Liberals ability to pay for their promised tuition freeze, adding tuition should rise with the cost of living, which is why the Tory government has set tuition increases at two per cent a year.
"The [New Democratic Party]'s policy is to re-regulate professional programs and lower tuition," said NDP candidate for London North Centre Rebecca Coulter, adding an NDP government would accomplish this by re-adjusting priorities to favour post-secondary institutions.
According to Coulter, there is money in the provincial budget for the NDP's promised 10 per cent cut in tuition for undergraduates and professional schools, noting taxes will not be increased for 90 per cent of Ontarians.
"As soon as they ended de-regulation, [tuition] went up several thousand a year," said second-year medical student Mohammad Lobani, adding he is currently locked into paying $15,000 a year for medical school at Western.