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Tuition increases ruled out as a way to help post-secondary finances, Ford says

Ontario Premier Doug Ford greets members of the public following a press conference in Mississauga, Ont., Tuesday, February 13, 2024. Ford says he has completely ruled out tuition fee increases as a way to ease financial struggles facing the province's colleges and universities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Ontario Premier Doug Ford has completely ruled out tuition fee increases as a way to ease financial struggles faced by the province's colleges and universities.

Late last month Ford indicated he did not want to raise tuition, but he went further Tuesday – when a reporter asked if he had totally ruled out increases, the premier said "that's right." 

Ford's government cut tuition by 10 per cent in 2019 for Canadian students and froze it as it cancelled a program introduced by the former Liberal government to give low-income students free tuition.

The tuition cut and freeze combined with low levels of provincial funding to post-secondary institutions forced many schools to look for different revenue streams, increasing reliance on international students, who pay much higher tuition. 

A government-commissioned panel last year recommended the province unfreeze tuition while raising student aid and increase operating grants to the schools. 

Neither Ford nor Colleges and Universities Minister Jill Dunlop have indicated yet what they plan to do to stabilize post-secondary funding, aside from telling institutions to find efficiencies, and, now ruling out a tuition increase.

Post-secondary institutions are now also grappling with a cap on international students' study permits that will see Ontario's allotment of new visas cut in half. Ford said Tuesday he was "caught off guard" by the federal government announcement.

Colleges Ontario, which represents the province's 24 publicly funded colleges, said the new cap is already creating havoc as they have year-round intake of students.

The Council of Ontario Universities has said their institutions receive the lowest amount of operating grant funding per full-time student of all the provinces. The level in Ontario is $8,647 compared to a Canadian average of $12,215.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 13, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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