March 3, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 79  

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Liberals still unclear about tuition freeze

By Marshall Bellamy
Gazette Staff

According to a document leaked from the Ontario government, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities was considering a plan to exclude de-regulated university programs from the promised tuition freeze, however sources claim the document is not government policy.

“That’s wrong; the document wasn’t taken to the cabinet,” said Linda Chiarvesio, spokesperson for the minister of TCU, adding the document was also dismissed by the premier.

“The government remains committed to a two year freeze,” she added. “The government will be moving forward with the commitment made in the throne speech.”

Chiarvesio explained that the government is formulating a long term plan for the promised tuition freeze, but was unsure when it would be instituted.

University Students’ Council VP-education Dave Ford pointed out he is not worried about the threat of de-regulated programs not getting the tuition freeze.

Ford indicated the government should be releasing their plan for freezing tuition. “The Liberals are stumbling over this and are not providing information,” he noted, adding the universities need the information for their budgets.

“Yes, there is a cause for concern, but we aren’t alarmed,” said Rick Telfer, Ontario national executive representative for the Canadian Federation of Students, when asked about the possibility the government may exclude de-regulated programs. “This is something that never went before cabinet, this was a bureaucratic document.”

“We’re confident they will freeze tuition, the question is will they fund the freeze?” Telfer noted, explaining the CFS’ conservative projected cost for a tuition freeze in Ontario would be $209 million. “They have said this freeze will be funded.”

Ford noted the best way to fund the freeze would be to focus on the annual increases for the de-regulated schools.

“[The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance]’s position has been to take it out of the context of the freeze and talk about funding levels,” he said, adding if Ontario’s post-secondary funding was on par with the national average the government could afford a four-year tuition freeze.

“People are whining about it, but the commitment is there,” he said. “It would be a slap in the face of students if it isn’t fully funded and quality declines.”



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