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TIAO Welcomes $1.3 Billion Funding for Universities and Colleges but Calls for Further Measures

TIAO Welcomes $1.3 Billion Funding for Universities and Colleges but Calls for Further Measures

The Ontario government has introduced $1.3 billion in funding aimed at stabilizing colleges and universities. Publicly assisted institutions will see an extension of the tuition freeze for at least three additional years, with a provision allowing a maximum 5% tuition increase for out-of-province domestic students.  

The funding package includes $903 million over three years for the new Postsecondary Education Sustainability Fund (starting in 2024-25), $167.4 million for capital repairs, and additional one-time grants. Mental health support receives a boost with a $23 million allocation over three years. The government has also introduced the Strengthening Accountability and Student Supports Act, 2024, meant to address transparency, provide more mental health services, and stronger anti-racism policies. Furthermore, there is a proposal to permit colleges to offer applied master’s degrees in high-demand fields, complemented by the launch of a career portal to help students navigate labour market needs. 

To read the news release, click here.  

TIAO is pleased to see that the Province has been receptive to our recommendations to support our postsecondary institutions, which offer critical training programs, employment pathways for in-demand sectors like tourism and hospitality, and infrastructure supporting local and domestic visitor markets. But while today’s announcement is a positive step toward addressing the immediate financial challenges faced by Ontario’s postsecondary institutions, it falls short of the policy measures required to bring college and university funding up to at least the national average.  

Following the federal introduction of the international student permit cap, TIAO is pleased to see that the Province intends to work closely with the postsecondary sector to achieve fair allocation of the available study permits. Given that Ontario will be disproportionately impacted by the cap due to high international enrolment, TIAO recommends that funds be directed to in-demand programs like tourism and hospitality that will be hardest-hit by the cap—not just STEM programs. 

TIAO will work closely with our postsecondary partners and the provincial government to ensure that colleges and universities are able to continue offering the training, opportunities, and facilities that support the competitive position of Ontario’s local and regional visitor economies.  

In addition to the measures announced today—and given that their economic impact is expected to materialize over several years—TIAO calls on the government to support the competitiveness of our tourism workforce by making it easier for international students to access the jobs they have trained for, and supporting the capacity of small and medium-sized businesses to recruit, retain, and train the talent they need. We recommend: 

  • Rolling out the latest round of the Skills Development Fund to enable businesses and organizations to deliver critical sector-led training.  

  • Including TEER 4 and 5 in qualifying experience and jobs offers in the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program, with this ask to be considered in the current Ministry review of this program. 

  • Establishing dedicated provincial funding streams to support and incentivize the local development and delivery of private sector workforce and attainable housing solutions. 

 February 26, 2024