The Liberals’ quick fix
Though Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government
has been breaking promises left and right, his promise of a
fully funded tuition freeze may actually come true.
Of course, there are already problems, as the Liberal government
has yet to define the parameters of this “fully funded” freeze.
With universities working on their budgets for the upcoming
year, administrations across the province are hoping the government
will make a decision (as the province is only now beginning
consultations on the matter) sooner rather than later.
Questions remain as to how such a freeze will effect the quality
of education and services provided to students who are paying
exorbitant costs to attend Ontario universities. With universities
running huge deficits, it is necessary that any sort of tuition
freeze be completely subsidized by the government.
Arguably, this tuition freeze can simply be seen as a public
relations stunt to keep the disenchanted university youth quiet.
But at the end of the day, a tuition freeze seems a slap in
the face to university students across the province as estimates
denote that students will only save small amounts of cash.
Saving $100 is incredibly petty, especially if it sacrifices
educational quality and student services.
A tuition freeze in Ontario may result in the same sort of
problems encountered in British Columbia just last year. After
years of having tuition frozen under the previous New Democratic
government when the freeze was lifted by the Liberals with
universities in dire straights, tuition immediately doubled.
With both the government and universities preaching “affordability
and accessibility,” a freeze of tuition translates to
little benefit to students, especially those that can’t
afford to go as it is.
What McGuinty’s government should be looking into is
not a freeze that does little to improve the lives of university
students, but instead into ways to help finance post-secondary
The system of student financial aid in Ontario is in a sorry
state, which is an understatement to say the least. The Ontario
Student Assistance Program has not been changed or improved
in the last 10 years. Furthermore, funding cuts to this program
and increasingly strict qualifying criteria prevent students
in desperate need of aid from getting proper assistance.
The problem with university tuition costs ironically is not
something that can be solved by throwing money, or freezing
it if the case may be, to keep people happy. What needs to
be addressed are ways that universities can become truly “affordable
and accessible” to all students who qualify, while maintaining
quality. Unfortunately, McGuinty’s tuition freeze is
like slapping a band-aid on a bleeding aorta.